What's your first response?
A drone’s view of an intersection could be helpful in determining the cause of many automobile accidents. It would be an ideal scenario to have that perspective, especially in a court of law. And while traffic tickets and the assignment of error depends on truth and p
recise details, instantaneous interactions -- human beings involved at a crash site -- don't have the instant access to the bird's eye view a drone photo provides. Typically, in those moments, the dominant need is the positive of truth.
The need for grace in stressful, bone-jarring moments -- whether it be a vehicle accident, a social faux pas, or inappropriate retort – is the kind of response our society desperately needs. Too often, human interaction resorts to a quick demand for truth, justice and recompense. Grace is sacrificed for the sake of right and wrong, fault and blame...truth over compassion. Grace gets shoved aside so quickly that one wonders if there is a human, empathetic, sympathetic side of the equation.
I remember my parents' response years ago when my sister phoned home one day – long before cell phones -- indicating that a motorcyclist had unknowingly swerved into the path of her 1966 white Volkswagen beetle as she drove a side street in our small town. The motorcycle was no match even for this odd-looking miniature vehicle and the cyclist flipped – from what I’ve been told – over the top of the “bug” to land rather unscathed a few feet behind Donna’s skid marks. Neither was hurt, though the motorcyclist sustained many more bruises than did my sister; hers were mostly mental. My parents’ first response -- and the correct one -- upon receiving my sister’s phone call, was: “Are you hurt? Are you okay? What about the motorcycle driver?” As my sister and I were reminded later, “we can replace things, but we can’t replace you.”
That is the reaction we need in our world: One that expresses care and concern, empathy, and grace first, even when there is fault to be found. Perhaps Ferguson, MO, and Minneapolis, MN, and Portland, and many other cities across the US might have experienced less trauma if the emphasis would be grace over truth.
Too often in our litigious society, it seems that attorneys seem to be on every street corner when an incident or accident occurs. The drive for truth and blame plus recompense seems to dominate the unfortunate physical and also relational accidents in life. Our modern mindsets are molded towards hurt, resentment, anger, and revenge, instead of needed grace. What’s needed is a first-responders grace, care, and repair instead of a judgmental assignment of blame.
Putting grace first would uncomplicate millions of human interactions that occur hourly and daily. Offering the related components of grace would be even more beneficial to complicated situations. Vulnerability, transparency, acceptance, forgiveness, patience, and most importantly, love would lead to much better outcomes. Marriages would be stronger. Business transactions would be smoother. Child abuse would be diminished. Our society would be much better off with a vaccine of grace and love to inoculate us all to anger, bitterness, and truth used as a weapon. Musical artist Josh Wilson’s song “Revolutionary” expresses this grace first mindset when the question is asked, “What would Jesus do? He would love first; he would love first!” This action, if pursued relentlessly, would transform our society and our world through love and grace. Love and grace balanced with truth – truth shared appropriately and with proper timing, gentleness, and concern – would put actions and reactions in proper perspective.
On the continuum line of grace and truth, initial grace should be balanced with truth as the first response to relational difficulties. Truth should be an added follow-up benefit and never used as a weapon. “A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Too often, we are bombarded with truth and justice before the necessary balanced response of grace. Both are necessary, though grace should arrive early!