The way we relate to each other is so different than it was 40 years ago when I was a kid. Someone has said that the average person moves 11.4 times in their lifetime. It sounds freeing to leave 60% of your belongings behind on that eleventh move. With all this moving around, we don’t see most people as frequently as we would like.
Several months ago, I ran into someone who I hadn’t seen for about six months because of a relocation. I wouldn’t say that we were friends, but something far deeper than an acquaintance. I enjoyed this person’s thought provoking questions over lunch and admired their desire to take a risk. After several months of not seeing each other, I ran into this individual at a social event. To my surprise and confusion, this person quickly cast me aside. I attempted to bring up old conversation topics that were mutually attractive to us- nothing. I wanted to get out of this awkwardness, so I said a quick- “it’s really good to see you.” What happened? I had no communication with this person for six months, and their entire demeanor had changed toward me.
Was this person preoccupied? Were they part of the witness protection program now? Or did someone deposit some things about me in a negative light? To this day, I have no idea what happened and may never know. But it caused me to pause about my interactions with people. Have I ever done the same thing? How many people have I presented in a negative light to individuals who didn’t need to know? How can I do better in the future?
Here are a few core principles.
- Think before you speak. Just like momma said.
- Pause before mentioning anyone’s name to someone else. (Is the person you are talking to a part of the problem or part of the solution?) If not, you should probably remain silent.
- Repent. Think of times that you have violated this and confess first to God and perhaps make amends with other parties.
- Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)
- Don’t keep rehearsing the offense done to you, cover it with love. That’s what we would want someone to do with us if the roles were reversed.