As usual, I was in a rush. I seem to have two speeds: asleep and hurry.
I was late getting home, and in my flurry to get out of the garage and into the house, I shoved open my car door with too much enthusiasm and it clunked into the lawn mower with a thud.
Ugh. That’s gonna leave a mark, I thought.
Sure enough, I was horrified to find a long, angry, black mark scarring the car door.
Double crud! How am I going to explain this to Mr. 4-Ever?
I had already wrecked this car twice. Every time I said to my man, “Honey, I need to talk to you,” he jokingly responded, “Did you wreck the car again?”
Embarrassed and agitated, I started creating scenarios in my mind to make my carelessness someone else’s fault.
If I didn’t have to run every single errand, I wouldn’t even have been in the car today. I live with packrats! This garage has too much junk in it! No wonder I don’t have enough room to open my car door all the way. Why can’t that lawn mower get stored someplace else? Waah! Waah! Waah!
There was no getting around it, I’d have to fess up.
This time I had to tell my man I’d dented the car and I wasn’t even driving! Seems there was no limit to the number of creative ways I could damage my vehicle!
“I need to talk to you,” I said as I came into the house.
Predictably, he teased, “Did you wreck the car again?”
Trying to keep it light, I said, “Well, wreck might be too strong a word, but I did redesign it a bit.”
His face froze, and before I had the courage to say another word, he turned on his heel and went to the garage to inspect the damage.
He was gone for a while, but when he came back in the house, he said, “Honey, I’m sorry I left the mower so close to where you park your car. I should have made sure it wasn’t in your way.”
What? Relief flooded over me.
“I’m so sorry. I’ll be more careful in the future.”
Without excuses or accusations, a potentially volatile situation was disarmed. Owning up, taking responsibility, offering a gentle response is often all it takes to defuse, calm, and resolve an ugly situation or keep an angry situation from escalating.
Gentleness of God
You know, the same is true of our interactions with God.
When we do something outside his will for us, we may get an attitude or try to think of some way to justify our behavior—fully believing that God is going to be angry with us.
But when we go to him and confess honestly, he surprises us every time by responding with gentleness—I forgive you. I love you.
Jesus tells us that he is gentle (see Matthew 11:29).
We need never fear going to him and worrying how he will respond to us. And just like Mr. 4-Ever understood and treated me with gentleness, we can respond to others with kindness and gentleness because God does that same for us.
How has God been gentle with you lately?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” —Proverbs 15:1
Father, let me be a quick learner of this lesson and not be a sharp responder. Teach me to take responsibility and to extend gentleness, not a harsh rebuke. And let me never be afraid to go to you. Remind me that you are gentle. Amen.