I've spent the majority of the day reading this week's assignments for class so I don't have to worry about it at night. Constitutional interpretation isn't exactly the most exciting blog fodder, but it has sparked a whole new train of thought in me. A lot of this class has been discussing what the writers of the Constitution actually intended when they chose the words they did, and it's got me thinking about how twisted regular communication can get between people who generally mean well (or at least, I like to believe they mean well).
Thanks to the phenomenon of social media and advancement of technology, so much of our person-to-person communication nowadays has been reduced to text. And let's face it, it's really, really hard to be 100% clear on the intent behind your words when you're writing or texting instead of speaking right to the person.
Call me naive if you must, but I still somehow truly believe that people as a whole are good at heart. Over the past few months, there have been several arguments that I have been involved in where everything got blown way out of proportion because meaning or intent was misinterpreted. I'm an incredibly sensitive person, so I tend to take things that sound personal or hurtful as personal and hurtful, when the person who said them may not have meant them that way, right off the bat without stopping to think if I was jumping to conclusions. People, including me, are so short on time that they just get out what they need to say without being intentional about making themselves clear. I'm not saying that this is the cause of all inter-personal problems in the world, I'm not that naive, but I think if we all thought a little more about what we said, it would help things.
People often tell me that I'm good with words, but that's usually people who read this blog saying that. Truth be told, I struggle with tact in face-to-face conversation a good bit of the time. It's not that I'm mean, I just don't think about how what I want to say might come off to other people because, well, they're not in my head. It's usually when my temper gets the best of me, really, and I know that's probably a big problem for a lot of people, but I have some friends who handle rude comments with such grace and thick skin, so I know it's possible to change. When Chelsea comes at me with her verbal abuse, and I lose my temper, I stoop to her level. As a Christian, I'm supposed to be above that, and for too long, I've used my humanity as an excuse. Being human isn't an excuse for sin, otherwise there wouldn't be the kind of punishment that there is for sin that goes without repentance.
If I'm truly sorry to God for the way I've treated certain people, specifically my sister, then I have another job - try to be better next time. Think about what I'm about to say and whether it shows her the God that I want to pour out of me. The Bible says over and over and over again that we are supposed to use our words to lift others up and encourage them. That doesn't include some corollary that reads "but only the people that do the same for you." God doesn't work with corollaries; He is about universal love, even the ones my human heart wants to deem "unlovable" because, guess what? My sin makes me just as unlovable as her, and He loves me, anyway.
I can't sit here and play games in my own head with questions like "how different would our family be if I'd learned this lesson sooner?" I can't change the past, but I can stop letting it dictate the future. I have so many people who encourage me on a daily basis, even when I was pretty hard to deal with. That is a blessing from God, and blessings aren't meant to be for keeps. That kind of blessing is something that I'm supposed to share with others, and not just other Christians who will probably already get what it is, but more specifically the people who don't know the God that I love so much. I need to show it to them in such an intense and God-breathed way that they stop and question what makes me the way I am so that, maybe, they'll see God in me.
It all starts with the words I choose to say. Am I going to encourage the people I face, or tear them down as soon as I feel threatened or hurt? Actions may speak louder than words, but words still say a lot.