I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Are You Sinking?

Back in February, I received a fix-it ticket on my way to our mechanics. My mechanic immediately fixed the brake light that didn’t work. I went to the police department and signed it off the same day as the ticket.
The officer promised I would receive a letter in the mail that would explain “everything” and allow me not to appear before the courts (scheduled during my son’s wedding).
In the following five months, I received four corrections to that same ticket.
Three times I returned to the police station and asked for clarification.
The police officer assured me

  • I would not need to appear in court,
  • I would receive the promised letter explaining how to pay the fine
  • And things would be fine.

I wanted to believe that police officer, but I had a feeling this wouldn’t be all.
In June, I received a letter from the court fining me $300 for not appearing in court with an added $190 for what—I didn’t understand.
If certain forms weren’t completed in due time, an additional fine and penalties would be added to the charge.
I worried.
I had done everything I could to “do it right.”
The circumstances were beyond my control.
I was at the mercy of “the government.” And they didn’t seem right.
I cried.
My husband was at army drill.

Monday at 8 AM, I waited at the traffic court house with all the other people (the line wrapped around the outside of the building and a block down the street) for a chance to speak with the one judge in charge of traffic tickets.
When we were ushered into the court room, we watched a video stating our rights. If we pled guilty, our rights would be revoked.

We were allowed to leave the courtroom (all of us had parked in metered parking that allowed only two hours before the time ran out, and we had already waited a long time in line). But if we left and our name was called, we would be put at the end of the line (of at least a hundred people).
Since our phones had to be turned off (because if they rang, we would also be put out of the court house and lose our place in line), I didn’t know the time.
I worried about my clicking time on my parking meter, thinking of another traffic violation,  as I heard the judge whiz through others’ problems in a timely three minute per person rate.

When my turn came, I was asked if I was guilty.
I said I didn’t know.
The judge asked if I fixed my brake light.
I told him I thought the issue was two things: the brake light and the failure to show up in court. But I did get the brake light fixed.
He asked for the paperwork.
I said, “I was confused.” I explained the police officer gave me the white copy and the police department signed it off. When I received subsequent corrections to the ticket in the mail, and returned to the police department, they took the white signed copy, saying if they didn’t have that it wouldn’t get put in the system.
I said, “But it was my copy that proved my correction to the ticket.”
They signed another pink copy.
The judged leafed through all three corrected tickets and pulled out the signed copy.
“I’ll keep this one. You may have the rest. Pay $25.”
(This was in sharp contrast to the other fines he had been giving, ($1200, $600, $300.)
I thanked him and left.

I waited in another room for my paperwork to be entered in the computer.
When I was called to the cashier to pay the $25, I asked the cashier, “Was this it? Or would I get something else in the mail?”
She said, “Your case is closed.”
I walked out of the buidling on shaky legs. Was it over? It didn’t feel like it.
The issue had hung over my head since February. It was now June.
Why had I cried the entire weekend, worrying about going to jail over a brake light that was fixed within the hour?
Maybe because it was totally out of my control.
The government made the rules, and they didn’t make sense. They excused the rockie cop’s mistake, but I paid the price.
I knew I was looking at the water, like Peter, instead of looking at Jesus who walked on the water. But I couldn’t help it.
I found something I didn’t like about myself.
I tell others to TRUST.
And I thought I could trust too.
But it seemed my trust was limited to only what I knew I could control.
This required trusting when I couldn’t work things out.
I thank Him for holding me above the waters, even when I took my eyes from Him.
I hope I learned to trust more.
But God will test me again to make my trust grow deeper.
I don’t like those lessons.
They show me who I am.
It’s not what I like.
But God is making me worthy to give Him praise. And that is good.
Someday, when I kneel before Him, He too will say “Case Closed.”
Not because of what I did, but because of Whom I trust.
I again will leave on shaky legs—not because of doubt of closure, but because of the price He paid to close my case. The cost was great. Nothing short of death of His Son, but He paid it.
It was a hard lesson on trust. But He alone is worthy.

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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