I have been struck this week by how easily words, even those spoken with no malice intended, can easily destroy relationships and break down emotional wellness.
I made an agreement many months ago to spend part of my summer working for a certain company. I waited anxiously for months to begin, and finally did so just two short weeks ago. Because of the nature of this business, and because I trusted (and still do) those who run it, I did not worry when I didn’t receive some of the paperwork that is needed for me to officially become an emplyee. In fact, I began working with no official offer, no promise of wages, and only a naive faith that all would be well.
Unfortunately, after two weeks and many reminders the paperwork never came, and the work hours did not meet my expectations. I decided to leave before I was in too deep, and before too many resources had been wasted on my training. I approached the manner in a professional, Christian way. I received a professional, Christian request to stay.
During this time, I have also been in constant prayer over how I spend my time this summer in preparation for the coming school year. I have been feeling that I should spend my time in other things. This coupled with the above led me to decline the offer to stay.
Unfortunately, I apparently conveyed a tone of mistrust and accusation in one of my emails, and in the process offended and hurt those with whom I was working. I had not intended to do this, but the impersonal nature of email lends itself naturally to misinterpretation of intent and meaning. What to me had been a simple paragraph had meant something altogether different once it had been received.
I have since sent a follow-up, apologizing for this miscommunication. I hope that forgiveness is in their heatrs (and I believe it is), but this instance sticks in my head as an example of miscommunications within the Body of Christ.
It is so incredibly easy to lose control of our tongues (both verbally and in print) and cause deep hurt to others. We, as Christians, must be especially careful of our words as we are a witness to others. Otherwise we will become like those spoken of in Romans 3: “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.”
One way to accomplish this might be to more carefully practice the Discipline of Simplicity, as it pertains to our speech. Let our “Yes” be yes and our “No” be no.
Another solution might be to spend more effort evaluating what we say before we say it. Silence can be a great thing, but a kind word can heal open wounds. As the Proverbs say: