The other day in a conversation, a critical thought quickly formed itself into words. I hesitated just a moment before the words could rush out of my mouth like a pack of wolves. I chose not to say anything at all. No need to open that gate, I thought. I was about 30 seconds away from regrets.
There is a button on most microwave ovens that enable one to “add 30 seconds.” I wish I had such an indicator on my brain and heart. In the heat of the moment, it takes just about that long to get grace into place.
All too often I have rushed into a critical moment without thinking it through. My emotions and my ignorance take the helm. And in the wake, there is not resolution but regrets.
When I was pregnant with our first child, our Sunday school teacher facilitated an exercise using 1 Corinthians 13.1. The actual text says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” We were instructed to fill in the blanks, "If I _____, but I have not love, then I _____. " One woman replied, “If I have perfectly obedient children, but I have not love, I am only a tyrant.”
And what if we added 30 seconds to our reaction time? Just long enough for love, kindness, mercy and self-control to hold back the tsunami of emotions.
First responders move towards a conflict, complication or crisis with a strong sense of urgency and purpose. They do not react. They have been trained to respond. They assess the situation, put on their gear, and move strategically. They are not energized by anger, but by appropriate response.
And we need to do the same. The biggest difference between reaction and response is about 30 seconds. Just long enough to “Put on the new nature.” (Ephesians 4.24)
Am I being prideful in this situation?
Am I being kind?
What point am I missing?
Grace does not ignore a volatile situation, tense relationships, or destructive behaviors, but grace pursues it with the precision and gentleness of a neurosurgeon, not the running of the bulls.
Am I approaching this situation with healing in my hands? Or am I following the lead of Attila the Hun?
Let everyone be quick to hear,
slow to speak,
slow to anger,
for the anger of man does not work
the righteous of God.
James 1. 19-20
Add 30 seconds to it
to get grace into place.