I am currently reading The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis for a class I am taking. In this book he spends some time talking abut the danger of taking liberties in friendship. What I think he means by this is that true friendships provide a context in which we can let down our guard, to be a bit less controlled, less formal if you will. The danger comes, though, when we rely on this context of relaxation to intentionally act in such a way that is hurtful to our friends.
For example, my good friend Dave and I have a relationship that allows us to be a bit sarcastic with each other – to push each other’s buttons a bit. We do this playfully, and without malice. However, if I am having a bad day and just feel a bit snippy, I might have the urge to make a snide remark to Dave, assuming that our friendship allows me free reign to say what I want. But my words are not said with a spirit of friendship in this case. Instead, I am taking liberties with that friendship in order to be unloving, even hateful.
Now, not all instances of taking liberties are this intentional. Sometimes we just become so comfortable in a firendship that we make the assumption that nothing we say will be misconstrued, or be found hurtful. Though this may be a misunderstanding, it is still an example of taking liberties with friendship, because I have allowed myself to forget that respect and love for my friend must be my first priority to them.
I took such a liberty in a frienship this week. My words were not intended to be hurtful, but because I allowed the assumption of free speech without limits to enter into my friendship context, I inadvertently caused injury to a friend.
I am thankful for forgiveness and grace. I am thankful that both were extended to me by my friend. But this week has been a reminder to me that I must always consider my intentions when I speak, and must also consider the effect that my words may have on others. This is especially true within the context of marriage. Some people will take offense no matter what. I can’t help that. But I should live in such a way that this happens rarely.
I’ll chalk this one up as a life lesson, but pray with me for greater sensitivity and greater discernment in my speech.