Like any married couple, my husband and I have had our share of arguments and unrestrained moments of emotion. We’ve said things we shouldn’t and we’ve reacted in kind. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Yes, Jack and I have had a number of sword thrusts as we’ve parried back and forth in our efforts to prove one was right and the other was wrong. I’m sure you know all too well that all you get from sword fights is a bloody mess.
Jack and I believe in God’s grace, that God is a God of second chances. So after our encounters, we’ve learned to go to the other and say, “Can we try again?” “Can we rewind the tape?” “I want to give you a second chance. Do you want to say what you said in a different way?”
Wait a minute. It doesn’t work. The damage is done. The words are out there. You can’t take them back. Like a plate that lies shattered on the ground, our words do irrevocable damage. Isn’t that what our mothers taught us? What Google memes tell us?
Is it too late for grace?
Part of forgiveness is the choice to rise above the hurt and the consequences in order to bring healing, to courageously stop the bleeding from the wounds caused by the hurtful words. It’s giving the other person a second chance. We may not be able to prevent the hurt but we can keep the infection of bitterness from seeping through the entire relationship.
I was a terrible softball player. Of course. I couldn’t see the ball. One time, at a church family camp, the older man serving as pitcher moved in close where I could see his hand. He threw the ball. Strike One. Again. Strike Two. Strike Three. My shoulders slumped and the players on the field relaxed. But the pitcher’s hand poised in the air and he shook his head at me. Strike Four.
He kept throwing the ball until I hit it. Not well. I think I got out anyway. But I finally got it right. That wise man allowed me to succeed. He gave me a second chance.
Why can’t we do that with words?
Why can’t we do that with our relationships?
This week, a new President will take the oath of office. Granted, many who voted for him are still unsure of whether he is the man for the job. Those who didn’t vote for him are very convinced he is not fit to be President. Rumor has it that hundreds of thousands of people will protest at his inauguration. Miffed entertainers have turned down invitations to perform at inaugural balls and those who have accepted, like Christian comedian Chondra Pearce, have experienced a backlash of embittered criticism.
When the Facebook world continued to bash the new President, woefully predicting he was going to ruin our country, I liked what one Facebook friend had to say: “Wait and see.” She was one who believed in second chances. While others were ready to denounce the man before he had even assumed office, she chose to withhold judgment.
Those against the President-elect remember too strongly the man he has been, the man whose tongue is a finely honed dagger, the man who reacts too quickly with Twitter sword thrusts.
What would Jesus do?
How would Jesus want us to treat our President elect? Aside from the obvious need to show respect for the man in the office, what else would the Lord have me do?
Society says to hold Trump accountable for his words. Grace says, give a second chance. Jesus says to treat others like we would want to be treated.
Believe me, I sure do want my husband to give me a second or fiftieth chance when my tongue lashes out of control. That doesn’t give me license to say hurtful things. What I say does matter. Words take up residence in the heart and soul of other people far longer than I realize or wish. Yet, like any human being, my tongue slips. There’s lots of things I wish I wish my hearers would simply forget. I can imagine even Mr. Trump feels that way.
The country has chosen a new President. Let’s give him a second chance. He may make mistakes as he settles into his stride. So have Presidents before him. People do a much better job when they know they have support. The very act of criticism and cynicism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure. If we want our President to succeed, if we want our country to succeed, we have to take away the daggers of criticism and shelve them.
What about the other side?
To be fair, the same applies to our feelings toward those who have acted in unkind ways toward our President-elect. They deserve a second chance as well. God’s grace can touch those who used cutting words and slung dung on both sides. Many hearts in our country need a swab of antiseptic over the growing pool of infection. Only God can do that. He does it through His grace reflected in each of us.
Understand, this post is not promoting the incoming President. Its intent is to promote grace paid forward. I want us to champion the concept of the second chance in our relationships whether in our attitude toward our President-elect, those who have said harsh, spurious things about him, our mate whose stressful week has siphoned the strength from their emotional resources, or any relationship where someone is not at their social best. It’s about prophetic grace, the ability to give the other person the chance to be better than they are.
Instead of wielding a sword, throw the ball. Again. And again. Keep trying. Keep believing and loving the people in your life through the challenges they face. Like the Lord, envision the other person as they have the potential to become. Be a guardian of Second Chance Grace.