I really hurt a wonderful friend’s feelings yesterday.
I didn’t do it intentionally, but I did do it.
This may come as a shock to some of you but I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve. And even more, I tend to say what I’m feeling before I think it through. Which means… wait for it… I often say really stupid things that are nowhere near what I’m actually thinking and nowhere near what I mean. And these stupid things I say hurt people’s feelings.
Which I did yesterday.
It’s ridiculous, really. I am 38 years old and I can’t control my tongue. Or in this case, my text messaging fingers. And I feel awful about it. I stayed up late last night contemplating all of this, feeling like a silly junior high girl who said the wrong thing at the wrong time. (Which, for the record, I also did in junior high. Apparently I am a slow learner.) I woke up this morning feeling sick to my stomach about it, and as I’ve sat here this morning praying and contemplating, I’ve started feeling worse and worse. (I tend to be hard on myself.)
All of this wallowing isn’t helping.
Yet I can’t seem to learn my lesson.
So I’m trying something new. I’m writing about it. We’ll call it written processing instead of verbal processing. Because at least behind my computer, I at least have to think a little before I speak.
So here goes:
First, I’m really sorry for speaking too fast and without thinking. I’m sorry for saying too much when I shouldn’t say anything. For saying nothing at all when I should. For allowing emotions like anger and frustration to shine through my words before spending time processing those emotions. And if I’ve ever hurt your feelings with my words, I’m sorry. It was never my intention.
Second, I’m learning (very slowly, obviously) about fine lines. (And not the kind that are all over my face.) God calls us to say what is good, true and beautiful. All of our words should be sprinkled with grace and hope and mercy. But I don’t think that means we need to spend all of our time singing hymns and reciting scripture with our friends. (HA!) God also calls us to be real, gritty, honest with each other. To lean on each other. To hold each other up when we are struggling. There is a big, fat fine line between what is good, true and beautiful and venting. Basically, it’s okay to vent, but never at the expense of others, and never when it’s going to hurt someone and always in a way that’s edifying.
Third, I am really bad at zig-zagging across fine lines and doing it so quickly that people are hurt before I even think. My words rush out before they should. My emotions spike and I say thinks I never should say and I certainly don’t mean. And this is what I need to work on. Walking on that fine line. Stopping and thinking before I speak. Considering others before I jump to a conclusion. Saying what is good and true and beautiful all while saying what is real and honest and gritty.
Can I ask you to help me with this?
To call me on it.
To say, “Erin, that’s too much.” or “Erin, those words probably weren’t what you meant.” or just “Stop. It’s gone too far.” I will not hold it against you. In fact, I really appreciate my friend who I hurt yesterday for saying so. It’s way better that she called me on it than if she had allowed it to slip by unnoticed. Now I can learn. I can get better. I can grow. And I can turn into a 38-year-old who acts like a 38-year-old instead of a 13-year-old.
Anyway, I’d love your advice. Do you struggle with this as well? And how have you overcome it? What verses do you turn to when it comes to controlling your words. And how do you strike a balance between venting and speaking with grace?