I would have never dreamed texting would be the main way I communicate with most of my family and friends. I grew up in the era of using the telephone, attached to a wall, and mostly when needed to check on folks and for the rare long talk across many miles. Back then, you always answered the phone because you had no way of knowing who was on the other end. Now I hardly ever answer my phone without knowing who is calling me. I trust a machine to answer it for me and take a message that I can check later when I have the time.
The problem with texting for me is that I’m always afraid the person I am sending it to may not understand it in the context I meant when I put the words together. Will they read into it some sarcasm or lack of concern? So many times I rewrite it and re-read it myself, to try to keep any and all inflections that might be misinterpreted out of the words. I choose my words as carefully as I can and hope the emoji I attached helps my reader to know that there was no offense intended.
How can something that is really so cool and convenient cause such stress? Because I know how important those texted words, and how they are delivered, can be. I once read about a woman who became a physician because she had a terrible memory from her teen years. She and her father were being informed that her mother had died. The doctor that brought the news into the lobby of the hospital where she and her father were waiting delivered this statement, “She is gone.” To this young woman, being told about her mother’s death in those words, made it even more devastating. She vowed that when she would have to deliver hard news, she would do a better job.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11 (KJV)
The word “fitly” means that it is spoken at the right time. The words “in pictures” can mean settings. What we say and how we frame it can make all the difference. Have you ever taken note of obituaries? Kind of morbid I know, but when you are reading one of those short or long skinny columns, you are reading the story of someone’s life. There are the bare bone facts, when they were born and when they died. Then the names of their family members. The jobs they held, the activities they loved. The contributions they made during their circles around the sun. The ones that start with, “went home to be with his Lord” or “surrounded by her loving family” begin the story with the end and ending well is really what it is all about. The end can be truly comforting and very beautiful, when framed with such soothing words.
Words can be instruments of art. They can create artistic expressions of love, hurt, joy, melancholy, silliness, chaos or stillness. They can crush spirits and make souls stronger. They can be framed and they can frame truths, petitions, declarations, resolutions and praise. Words can be gifts of grace, weapons of warfare. They can be heavy and hurtful. They can bring light and healing.
Right now I just want to apologize to anyone I’ve hurt with my words. When I allowed myself to spew out hurtful verbiage just because I was angry or things weren’t going my way. Over the course of time and growth in Christ, those times are fewer and farther between, but I know I still speak or write before I fully surrender my words to His Holy Spirit. Maybe you can relate. We all fail.
In this time when it is so easy to share our words, I wonder if we realize the power we wield. I am reminded again, that what I say and how I say it matters. And I pray that my words are a reflection of His. And that they count for His Kingdom, shining like apples of gold in settings of silver.