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Social media has ushered in a new way of communicating. Where we used to speak our words for others to hear, or actually write them out in long hand on paper, now we put them in texts, on Facebook walls, Twitter etc. Our words can now reach much further simply by hitting the enter key, or as in this case, publish. The trouble with social media is it is much easier say things when sitting behind my computer than when I am in person. I’ve always communicated much better when writing my thoughts, but now there is a safety in the anonymity of using electronic media to stick my opinion and thoughts out there for others to ‘hear’.
In December of 2010, just 4 months nearly to the day after my divorce was final, I ventured back to my church ‘home’. I thought I was ready for it, the prodigal daughter going home to her Father and faith family. I was welcomed back with open arms and tears, and I knew that it was HOME. But it wasn’t long before I hit the ground and ran from there, and somewhat back to what had been familiar to me. Part of that was due to my own words, which were a reflection of my very battered heart.
I was still up to my neck in bitterness and pain at not only my ex-husband, but many former friends. One I lashed out about on Twitter. She proceeded to send copies of that tweet to my pastor, in an email in which she painted herself to be a wounded believer by my words. She also made sure to let it be known of my past in the swinger lifestyle. It was an attempt to hurt me, I get that, and she was successful. It was one more flame on the fire that was burning away at my heart and soul. That combined with a few other incidents concerning my ‘words’ and I hit the ground running in to opposite direction of where I needed to be.
Part of the problem with going back was that things had changed. I was no longer “Pete & Marti”, and that was hard. The couple who had been our best friends were divorced and he was there alone, she was missing. And I honestly felt that no one there could understand the road I was on at that time. Honestly, I still don’t know if anyone understood or could begin to grasp what I was going through. It was not just the divorce, but where I had been during the final years of my marriage. I was constantly on the defense so when someone did point something out, it felt like I was being judged. That was all my own heart issue, I get that now. This time, I went back and instead of being on the defense I decided that I would simply relax. I don’t have to be liked by everyone, because not everyone is going to like me. And yes, I am going to be under scrutiny by my fellow believers, because I did walk away twice, and I had been in a very dark, sinful place for a long while after having been a proclaimed believer. I gave folks reason to be skeptical and that is okay. My return isn’t about them, it’s about where I know I need to be, being fed and worshiping the Lord.
One of the reasons that former friend’s email to my pastor upset me so much is that deep down I knew she was right. Her motives were questionable, but I had in fact done something that was unbecoming of a believer. I don’t have to answer for her motives, that is between her and God, but I do have to one day give account for every careless word spoken by me:
New King James Version (NKJV)
36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
If I had a dime for every careless word/idle word that has come out of my mouth just since I’ve been a believer, I’d never have to work again and could live off of the interest only. Judgmental? Oh yes that would be me! Run off of the mouth? GUILTY! I used to take pride in the fact that I could slice someone’s jugular verbally. Not exactly something to be proud of, I know. And it doesn’t matter if what I say is true, it is the motive and intent of my heart that is behind the words that is also at issue. When in doubt, I should just be silent!
Which brings me to the whole social media side of the issue. Back when James wrote his letter that is now the book of James, written and spoken words were all we had. And while he addressed the tongue, or verbal side of communicating, I think the spirit of the passage applies to written words, and now social media as well. But not just on posted, public places where we write, but in emails and texts along with the spoken word. Because we WILL one day have to give an account before God, on the day we are judged, and it will include, no doubt about it, every word spoken and written.
I’m learning to keep my mouth shut more than I run it. To stick to what my grandpa used to tell me, that if I didn’t have something nice to say, it wasn’t necessary to say anything at all. I later realized that is what Thumper’s mom taught him, in the movie & story of Bambi, what I call the Thumper Rule. This is by far one of the hardest things for me to do, keep my mouth shut, sit on my fingers when I want to lash out at someone on Twitter, in my blog, or on Facebook. I have a tendency to go all mama bear on people and need to be more careful. Stop, think, think again, wait 24 hours, pray during that time. It will keep me from stumbling in this area. And meditate on this verse above from Matthew, apply it like spiritual duct tape to my mouth and hands.
New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.[a]