Stickshift

Manual Transmission, Truth, and Kindness

A good friend gave me a gift when he moved out of town recently–a faded black 1990 Toyota 4Runner. After years as his daily driver, it has now graduated to a second life as my ready escape-pod which I can point to the mountains for fishing and other bumpy-road adventures when God calls me away. As I drove the old-but-sturdy craft back from Montana a couple of weeks ago (my friend needed a ride up there) I was surprised how much effort it took to get used to driving stick again. I originally learned to drive on manual transmissions, but it’s been a while. I guess I have been softened by the minivan. Don’t get me wrong; I do love the convenience and comfort of the Blue Ox, but there is something wonderful about a machine that takes more than a casual commitment from the operator. It’s very hard to eat a sandwich or talk on a cell phone while driving the 4Runner–the steering and the shifting each demand an arm.

Which brings me to the proverbs.

Do not let kindness and truth leave you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good repute
In the sight of God and man.
-Proverbs 3:3-4

Doesn’t it feels too dangerous to be truthful sometimes? And honestly, doesn’t it sometimes feel like a waste of time, or patronizing, to be kind?

Perhaps that’s because we often think of these two elements as separate tools in the toolbox which we might use at different times according to our preference.

But truth and kindness are not mutually exclusive, they are mutually dependent–like a machine that takes two hands to drive. And here the proverb says we can expect an outcome of favor and good repute with God and man when we keep truth and kindness close–together. That sounds really good to me. I desire to enjoy preference and a good reputation in my relationships with God and people. I wish I could say I am already good at the simultaneous function of both truth and kindness, but alas I have often leaned hard on one or the other depending on the pressures of the moment.

But here is an invitation to live more intentionally–more honestly and respectfully. I will be practicing driving with two hands in my conversations and my vehicle in the season to come–perhaps at the same time. Care to come along?

September 3, 2015