Recently, a friend of mine was waiting in her van to pick up her son at soccer practice, like you do when it’s summer, and you have kids and 99% of your time is spent shuttling kids to activities.
She idled there with the car running, two littles napping in the back seat, when suddenly she was startled by someone pounding on her window. She had accidentally pulled partially into one of three handicapped spaces, waiting for her son to come to the car. A mother with a handicapped child at home, didn’t approach her to question for better understanding, or respectfully point out her mistake, but instead, pounded and yelled repeatedly for her to move.
The offended mother then took a picture of my friend’s car with the license plate and posted it on Facebook, with publicly shaming remarks, a distortion of the situation, and no chance for explanation or apology. This escalated, with FB readers weighing in, suggesting all kinds of retribution against my friend who had made an innocent mistake.
So here’s what my friend did. After some investigation, she discovered the angry woman had a blog, so she read it all, trying to better understand her. She then wrote a letter of apology for her mistake, attaching some hydrangeas and a bag of peanut m&m’s (which she learned the woman liked from reading her blog), and dropped it in her mailbox.
The woman made it known she has no interest in talking with my friend, so that’s that, right? I don’t think so. Who knows the pain this woman is carrying and how this small act of grace and peace-seeking may be a seed that will bear fruit in the future?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
My friend’s experience is just one story – #ouch! Young, old, single, parent, retired… It doesn’t matter. Most of us navigate the mine field of social media on a daily basis. When we’re dinged we need to question for better understanding, and respond with grace. But what about our responsibility as posters?
What’s happened to civil discourse and respectful problem-solving?
Here are 3 additional questions we might ask before posting:
- Is this helpful and constructive? Will this promote dialog and understanding, or am I lobbing a “hand-grenade”?
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4:6
2. Why do I want to post this? Is it coming from a place of hurt? need for attention? anger?
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23, 24
3. Would I feel comfortable saying this directly to my parents, employer, friends of a different faith or political party?
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building othersup according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Eph. 4:29
Those are a few of my thoughts. What would you add?
You might also be interested in this post on “Crucial Conversations”.