We live in a world with a lot of instant. We have instant food and drinks, and unending access to instant information. We expect instant replies to our text messages and don’t want our phone calls to go to voice mail. We speak into our room to change the thermostat, order groceries, and get the weather report. We know who is ringing our doorbell (whether we are home or away). And many, myself included, allow instant words which can’t be taken back once they have been let loose, hurt others and ourselves.
I grew up in a different era. The only instant product I knew of as a kid was instant coffee and to the best of my recollection my grandparents were the only people who drank it. There were no microwave ovens at their house or mine. These days, I use my microwave on a daily basis. Usually to heat and reheat the same cup of coffee I keep forgetting I put in there. So while I don’t abhor instant as much as I think I do, lately the trouble with instant words has been on my mind.
I’d like to share a little-known fact about myself, I have the greatest come-backs ever. They are sharp, snarky, and generally filled with thoughtless, hurtful words. But God has graced me with the distinction of being slow and my come-backs usually come back too late. Not always, but for the most part, much too late to be a useful come-back.
We unfortunately live in a world where this is not the case. Worse, we don’t even have to think up the come-back, we only need our index finger and someone’s snarky remark and we can repost or retweet and – BAM – we are the kings and queens of come-backs and hurtful words.
Anyone with access to a computer or smart device can say anything they want—instantly!
But here’s the thing. My not-so-instant come-backs have saved me a lot of grief. Yes, I still must have come to Jesus moments to set my heart and mind back to right, but at least I haven’t plastered my instant words all over another person, or worse, saved for eternity on the traceable internet highway. I am blessed with the opportunity to think through my misguided words and consider how to say them more kindly, or not at all.
Social media and too many of us, are filled with instant words that don’t need to be there. Words which if the sayer doesn’t take the time to consider the consequences, often hurt themselves and/or others. It’s a slippery slope that leads to a muddy mess. But it has become the norm. Presidents and influencers do it unapologetically. Media outlets and reporters post by the minute. Every day people cry into their devices after a post goes viral that their words were misconstrued and pining about how they are now being threatened, treated unfairly, or being held accountable by peers and bosses. Husbands and wives scar their relationships. Parent build walls between themselves and their children. Family and friendships are shattered.
The backlash is often instant and permanent.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t speak. I’m saying we should speak wisely. We should speak thoughtfully, and consider if what we are thinking is truly what we need to say or are meaning to say. Because our loved ones deserve love, and the internet is a public, permanent place.
“You’re ugly,” followed by “I’m just kidding,” didn’t take the sting away on the playground when were kids. The chant about words and broken bones is not true. Words can hurt others as well as ourselves. Don’t be fooled into using instant words, take your time before speaking or posting. Being slow to speak is wisdom in action, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires (James 1:19-20).”
Although I have been fortunate to be slow with the come-back, I haven’t exactly kept myself from being Weary by Wednesday with my words. These were lessons learned the hard way over many years. Don’t let the trouble with instant words bring you or those you love down.
Thanks for stopping by, its been a crazy year for us all and I’m praying you are hanging in there. I’d love to hear how you are doing.