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Caution: Student Driver

Without fail, every time I come near a car with the sticker “Caution: Student Driver,” I’m transported back in time to my first few days behind the wheel when my dad made a similar sign taped on all three rear windows of his car (he believes stickers are for my art projects, not his car). Except mine read, “BEWARE: Student Driver.” You could imagine the look of horror on my face when my 16-year old self entered the garage to realize my dad already labeled me a hazard, and I had yet to enter the vehicle.

Since getting my license and proving myself a good driver, I find myself feeling extra compassion for the new driver bearing their sticker. I will never cut them off, or add pressure by coming in too close. I know what it feels like to be both excited and embarrassed at the same time. And if we’re on the same road - then we have a higher chance at being safe together because we’re both being careful, right?

But there’s something about allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. To be honest about where we are in life, and invite others into creating a safe space together. And after experiencing a year like we just did, it would be interesting to see what some of our bumper stickers might read:

  • Caution: I just lost my job
  • Caution: Working from home and distance learning is hard
  • Caution: I lost a loved one
  • Caution: I haven’t been hugged in almost a year

Whatever the sticker might read, each one holds an invitation for grace. We are all navigating a brand new year with much of the effects of 2020 still prevalent, and yet with high hopes that 2021 will make right what 2020 did wrong. The truth is, we have no idea what’s in store for the new year, and as many would say, 2020 taught us that anything can happen; not every plan will be fulfilled, and tomorrow truly is not promised.

While those are great lessons, I hope the top lesson we got from 2020 and continue to meditate on is: “Thank God for grace.” Thank God that He freely gives us His grace, and that He meets us right where we are, and that whatever it is we are going through - He can use that for His glory.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” - 2 Corinthians 12:9

I think boasting about our weaknesses is very countercultural, especially in the age of social media. But hear me out when I say that God does not hold us to a standard of perfection. He holds us to a standard of grace, and that is the exact same standard we should set for ourselves and for others. For some of us, we need to practice extending grace beyond ourselves, and for some of us, we need to start receiving God’s grace more willingly. It’s more than enough, and God never hoards it.

And imagine, what if the grace you give is the answer to someone’s prayer? Imagine how that could change the course of their day, their week, their year, their life. And God is so good that when we bless others, He blesses us too.

Maybe grace isn’t exactly a “breakthrough idea,” but it can very well lead to the breakthrough we’ve been needing. And even if 2021 doesn’t look as different as 2020, it can feel different. A good different.

So the next time you pass by a car with the student driver sticker, remember it says “caution” which means to take care (“beware” incites danger - thanks, Dad). Take care, and give grace. We all need a little bit more of it.