Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Confessions of a Lead Foot Motor Mouth

Confession. I have a lead foot, so driving the speed limit is difficult. I was issued a warning four years ago, but I'm happy to announce I don't remember the last time I was issued a speeding ticket. Good for me?  Not really. Driving with kids, a cruise control that I use even around town and the fact that I've been extremely conscientious about traffic laws for the last two decades helps, but the truth is that I simply haven't been CAUGHT. 
Why is driving the speed limit so difficult?  With help from a City of Anderson patrol officer, Sergeant Vincent Smith,  I discovered it's all about control.  He hears often what I think every time I look at my speedometer.  I didn't realize I was going that fast.  Control.  Before I know it, I've lost it.
Sergeant Smith also hears, I was passing another car. That's an interesting excuse since there's nothing telling us we can disregard traffic laws to pass another car.  He shared a few excuses that somehow put the blame on something else other than the driver.  New or oversize tires caused my speedometer to read wrong. Not my fault. There's no way I can speed going uphill.  I'm right, you're wrong.
And then, there's this excuse, I was going downhill which caused my car to speed up. Of course the vehicle speeds up.  Running, walking, bicycling, or driving, YES, we go faster and faster downhill, don't we?  And without control, we continue.
There are speeding laws and consequences for breaking those laws.  What does speeding in the City of Anderson cost? The minimum fine is $81.87 with 2 points.  The maximum fine is $440 and 6 points.  OUCH, not only are the fines costly that one time, but the points on a driver's license can cost months or maybe a few years of insurance payments.  That's reason enough to exercise control.    
But, here's a better reason and a more serious consequence.  I asked Sergeant Smith, "Why do you believe it's important to obey traffic speed limits?"  His response was direct and simple. "Speeding and disobeying signs and signals causes bad accidents."  Sometimes we recover from those accidents, and sometimes we don't.
Confession. And this will surprise no one. I have a motor mouth that runs fast and often.  Unfortunately, it's also difficult to control. Again, I'm happy to announce that I exercise a little more control than I did a decade ago, well, except for yesterday and last week and last month and six months ago and a year ago.  You know what I mean.  As soon as I think I have my mouth, and let's call it what it is GOSSIP, under control, there I go running it again as fast and as often as possible. 
In my opinion, gossip is the easiest sin not only because everyone does it but also because it's the most difficult to control.  I'm innocently talking to friends, family or co-workers about something entirely relevant. And before I know it, gossip. And the more I talk and the more others respond, I'm speeding downhill, completely out of control heading for an accident.   
And there's a price to pay. I know because it happened: hurt feelings, lost trust and cautious relationships.  But what if we're not caught?  Big deal? Does it hurt others?  Yes, it does.  Through gossip, we change someone's view of another person.  What if we share completely irrelevant information that happened long ago, does it hurt us?  Is there a price?
"If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." James 1:26 
Worthless.  Other translations for what happens to my religion: futile, isn't worth much, vain.
Blaming my mouth on others is as useless as blaming my lead foot on other drivers.  When was the last time you drove the speed limit on the interstate while dozens of cars sped by? As soon as we think, "Oh well, I might as well step on it, too," we give up control.  The price of a ticket or an accident is the same whether it was our idea or theirs.
Other than my kids, cruise control has been helpful to me as a confessed lead foot.  What about my motor mouth?  A Facebook friend shared another verse last week.
"Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior." 2 Timothy 2:16
Those are good verses to memorize. Maybe we can lock them in and set our cruise control. Or maybe, we give the ultimate control to God; after all, self-control is a part of His fruit.  
Whether it's a lead foot or a motor mouth or both, there's a price to pay.
Be safe, 
Thank you, City of Anderson Police Department for being so courteous and helpful. Phone calls, e-mails, and Facebook messages were met with professionalism and promptness even when I told them this was a hobby and there was no hurry.