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taking responsibility

Since most of you will read this before or after worship, I guess it’s a good time to offer a confession: I got a ticket this past week for not wearing my seat belt. I had just left the Spring Street trolley station and was on my way to Hope’s softball practice. A La Mesa police office on a motorcyle spotted me and pulled me over.

I have to admit to not being happy about it. In fact, I was a bit ticked off. I thought to myself … Don’t they have anything better to do than drive around looking for seat belt violations? Shouldn’t they be out fighting real crime?

My fuming continued as he asked for my driver’s license, registration, and insurance. I had been hoping for a warning, even a stern warning, instead of a ticket. As I watched in my rear-view mirror, he began writing the ticket — something that made me squeeze the wheel a bit harder.

For a fleeting moment I thought of asking him, “Weren’t you in that show called Chips?” I may have been upset, but I wasn’t going to be stupid.

But here’s the reality: I deserved that ticket. One hundred percent guilty as charged. There was no misunderstanding, no differerent interpretation. I wasn’t wearing my seat belt. End of discussion.

Isn’t it ironic that we often get upset when we get caught doing what we know is wrong? We take moral indignation and turn into immoral indignation. “You can’t tell me what to do” is often our angry reaction to being called out or told the truth.

Parents, teachers, coaches — anyone who works with young children — know that the hardest part about raising children is getting them to take responsibility for their actions. It wasn’t the imaginary ghost who made the mess. It was me. “I did it” are three of the most difficult words to say.

And that’s just as true for adults as it is for kids.

You have passed a major milestone on the path to spiritual maturity when you are able to take responsbility for your actions. It wasn’t the devil who made you do it (he may have contributed to it, but you made the choice).

And watch out for those cops on Baltimore Avenue.