You guys will never believe what happened the night before Thanksgiving. Seriously, if I had not witnessed it with my own eyes, I would swear it wasn’t true. Just a few miles from my house, my dad ran out of gas on his way home from work.
Listen, my dad is the ultimate car guy. When he was in his teens he always owned two or three cars at a time. An oil change is never missed, tires are always rotated, routine fluids filled, and he has always told us to never get below a half of a tank of gas.
And yet on that extremely brisk and windy night, he had to get off on the exit near my house and call for back up. When my mom called me to tell me the situation and ask if I could help since I lived so close, I think my jaw hit the floor. There was no way that man ran out of gas!
Chuckling at the thought of it, I loaded up our gas can and headed out to rescue him. On my short drive over, I couldn’t help but think how many times this man had come to my rescue when it came to my car issues or mishaps. I mean just last year he drove to Findlay to help me change my tire (although I had it changed before he arrived).
When my battery died after vacation, he was the one who went and picked one up for me. And when we realized he got the wrong one, he went back and returned it and got the right one. He knew about the countless, careless times that I ran out of gas in college — which was why I always got the lecture about it.
So, as I pulled up behind him on the off ramp, I could barely stop the smirk sneaking up on my face. This was it. I would finally give it all back to him. Lecture away, Sarah. But, as I watched him step out of his car, all I could manage to get out was, “Well, I guess I really don’t have to say anything do I?”
Oh, he went on about how he still had another line before “E.” Yep, been there done that, I thought. Continuing on with how his engine stopped and there must have be something else wrong with the car yet watching it fire up after he added the gas had me suddenly overcome with humility and grace.
My dad, he didn’t need an “I told you so” or any lecture at all. He knew he made a mistake and that was that. And all I could think about was how many mistakes I have made and the grace and forgiveness that has been handed to me over and over again in my life.
As a parent especially, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have messed up. Like when I snapped at my girls because they still hadn’t brushed their teeth after the fifth request, or when I went a little overboard with frustration when the just-cleaned house was shortly after covered with toys.
Or when I grounded Maylie for two weeks from her videos when she lied to me and yet I promised them I would come back in and sleep with them when my nightly tasks were finished knowing full well that they would be asleep and not know that I didn’t.
Throughout the last six years of motherhood, there have been times where I have sunk down on the bathroom floor after yelling and wrestling a tantrum-throwing little one and completely flooded the room with tears at how I handled it. But, each time that has happened, there have been tiny fingers there to grab my face, wipe my tears and crawl into my lap. Now that is grace that only a child can show.
And on this Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for the reminder that it is OK to mess up from time to time. That even parents don’t always get it right no matter how many times we have preached it. That forgiveness and grace are childlike qualities instilled by the Lord himself when he took all our mistakes to the cross.
And we are going to make mistakes — as parents, wives, daughters, friends, sisters — as people. And if we aren’t careful, we can let those mistakes eat as us and make us feel like we are failing. Or, we can let little hands heal us, learn from our actions and vow to do better.
Because this time you may be the one who ran out of gas but next time you may be the one showing up with the gas can.
Sarah (Pitson) Shrader was born and raised in Lima. She is a Lima Central Catholic and Tiffin University graduate. Sarah is a full-time working mama who enjoys writing about her somewhat crazy, always adventurous life as a mother. She lives in Bath Township with her husband, Paul, and their daughters, her writing inspirations, Maylie and Reagan.