On a trip with my youngest daughter to New York City, I had on my Sunday
agenda a visit to Redeemer Presbyterian Church. It’s the home church of
the Rev. Tim Keller, a pastor whose sermons and books I enjoy.
We were staying in Queens. I had relied on the subway to get us in and
out of the city for most of our trip, but I worked up the courage to
drive into Manhattan for church that morning. I figured it wouldn’t be
too bad on a Sunday.
While I had accurately estimated the traffic flow, I miscalculated how
long it would take to park. I drove around and around the church in an
ever-widening circumference, desperately seeking a parking space.
Running out of patience and time, I finally edged the car into a spot
that I had a feeling was not legal. There was a sign, something about no
parking 7AM to 7PM, even on Sundays. But, I figured, other cars were
parked there, so why couldn’t I?
Laura and I wasted no time jumping out of the car and walking towards the
church. But, I was stopped in my tracks when I heard someone yell out,
“Hey, you can’t park there!” I turned and saw a man who had pulled up
next to the car I had just illegally parked. His window was rolled down
and he said, again, “You can’t park there! You’ll get a ticket!” He then
proceeded to read the words on the no parking sign in front of my car. I
pretended I hadn’t noticed it there.
I was somewhere between tears falling and my head popping straight off of
my neck. I think he sensed this, so he added, “Drive up a couple blocks to
Madison, you should be able to find a spot there.” Irritated, I got back
in the car and headed up the street. To be completely honest, at first I
was pretty ticked off. Who died and made that guy a meter maid? It
wasn’t any of his business where I parked, anyway. I was trying to go to
CHURCH for crying out loud!
But, then I noticed the parking enforcement officers out in full force.
They seemed to be enjoying their work as they happily placed their little
slips of paper on each car that had broken the rules. It didn’t take me
long to realize that the guy I had written off as a busybody had actually
done me a big favor. The irritation of not being able to park would have
paled in comparison to what I would have felt if I returned to my car to
find a ticket.
I didn’t end up making it to church that morning. But, the Lord had a
lesson for me nonetheless. Sometimes, hearing the truth is painful. The
truth can force us to look our errors in the eye when we’d really just
rather pretend that everything’s fine, thankyouverymuch. I think it’s
pretty normal to get irritated when someone speaks a truth that stings at
first. But, we owe it to ourselves to at least evaluate what was said and
decide if we need to do something about it.
Yes, sometimes the truth hurts. But avoiding the truth is likely to hurt
a whole lot more.