Over the past couple of days, I have engaged in a email conversation with an old friend from high school. The mail was quite harmless. She was asking to have another person added to a mail list of which I am the moderator.
We have had a relationship over the years filled with bantering back and forth. and this is how the mail went until yesterday when I replied. I believed that I was continuing in the bantering but my friend did not read it that way. In her reply she was rather upset at my words. I then replied that I did not mean anything negative and asked for her forgiveness. Her mail back said she was very close to writing some very mean words last night but did not.
I was once again reminded just how powerful words are and how quickly they can turn ugly. Some lessons I learned from this experience, and am sure will violate sooner or later are:
- Any words can be interpreted as hurting even if they weren't intended to be. Lord, may I think before I speak.
- Written words don't carry tone, inflection, facial expression, body language and the such. They are much more likely to be seen as hurtful when they aren't written that way.
- be quick to ask for forgiveness, and not the "If I offended you" kind. Make your forgiveness not dependent upon anything. Humility should rule the day.
- Words should always be seasoned with grace and loving-kindness. Perhaps there isn't even a place for friendly jesting even amongst the closest friends.
- The book of Proverbs has much to say about words and communication, read it frequently.
Even though I wish this episode hadn't occurred, I am grateful that it reminded me about the power of words.
Lord Jesus, guard my tongue and pen as I speak and write. May my words uplift people and not bring them down. May I exalt you in my speech.