I have never been much of a rule follower. Speed limits and due dates have always been starting points for me. And I’m not saying rules aren’t necessary or important. We have our share in our house.

Such as: no sharpies allowed (Tess always seems to find them anyways), If I cook dinner we eat at the table, whoever cooks doesn’t do dishes, if you use the last sheet of toilet paper, put on a new roll. You must wear pants to go outside.
And at school: No sunflower seeds (no food that involves spitting for that matter). No running with scissors. No taking things off my desk. Be in a seat. Any seat. No touching each other. No lining up at the door. No singing the Friday song, etc.

And of course all the usual rules.
And I've written about my opinion on rules before....and how they fall about third on my priority list here: the spirit of the game.

At work we have an entire book of rules for our kids to follow mapped out with the appropriate consequences. And I teach at a good school with good kids and for the most part they follow most of them. Sort of. Plenty of them walk into my room with Chicken Express cups after lunch even though we have closed campus. Walk down any hall or into almost any room and you are likely to see nose rings, cell phones and ipods. Which are all officially banned. Scan the staff and you’ll find a few flip flops, a few people who have forgotten their id, and even a few more sneaking in late or out early.

But for the most part, we follow most of the rules most of the time.
And that is how most of us do life.
We always follow the big rules. And pick and choose the little ones. Especially the ones that seem silly or don’t hurt anyone. And we validate what kind of people we are based on how well we follow the rules or at least how much better we are at it than the people next door or down the street or across the tracks. And we spend a lot of time and energy making sure we don’t get caught or called out or pointing at other people who are breaking bigger rules than we are. So no one notices our own  little indiscretions.

Recently I got busted. For something little. And it was a something I do all the time. And a something plenty of people I know do often enough. Some of them even daily. But when I got nailed, I got angry. It was unfair. I was being picked on. I questioned the motivation. I tried to take my punishment without complaint or excuse, but I was whining to all my friends. I was in a bad mood for days. I was (and am) having a hard time forgiving.

But ultimately I sounded just like my kids. The ones I teach and my own. I broke a rule. I got caught. I had consequences. And really, the consequences were incredibly minor. But I was still hot. And eventually after I got done being mad I realized I was mostly embarrassed. For getting in trouble. That someone felt the need to go so far out of their way to bust me on it. For getting called out. And I wanted to point my finger at all these other people doing things way worse than me.Which is what my 5 year old does and what my 16 year old students do and even apparently what some grown ups (me) do too.

No one likes getting caught.

Think about it. I’ve gotten my share of speeding tickets. And never once did I thank the cop for doing such a fine job of pulling me over. Of keeping the roads safe. Or thank him for not nailing me the other 247 times I sped without getting a ticket. I fumbled for my registration. I swore under my breath. Wondered why he didn’t get all those other cars that were passing me, obviously going faster than I was. I whined about barely being over the speed limit. And by barely I mean about 16 miles per hour. And waited as long as possible to tell my husband that I got another ticket and would need to watch defensive driving. Again.

And this is no different.

And we rate rules. Ones that we think are most important. Ones that we think we can ignore. And sometimes we try to apply that to sin, but it just doesn’t work that way. Jesus broke plenty of rules. And people were happy to bust him on it every time. But he was still perfect and blameless. And so that makes the judging other people and rule following and comparing especially tricky. Rules are rules. Policy is policy.  Sin is sin. And they aren't necessarily the same thing. The rule I broke was teensy. The sin in my heart a little harder to deal with. When I get caught, and especially when I don't.

So I went on a long run and tried not to be mad. But being mad is easier than being embarrassed and certainly easier than forgiving. I tried not to think about all the other things other people were doing that were worse. At least according to me. I tried not to think about catty comments I could make that would make me feel better. At least for a minute. Because, it is so hard to face our own specks. Much less our own planks. It is much easier to point out other people's.


samskat said...

as usual, you are posting this just when its what i need to read...are you a mind reader??? glad you're posting again...even if i'm a loser and not posting!

Margie said...

This is great, Michelle. Meaty. Hate admitting to my planks.