The Valentine’s day card that wasn’t…Vol 17
So Kathy had an office day…partly to get her driver’s license changed over to NY from WV (more about THAT in a later post.) I called her while she was enjoying the wildlife at the beautiful Irondequoit DMV, and asked her to come down to do a Valentine’s day lunch with me…which we did…at Fox’s Deli…and it was delicious.
We bid farewell… and being that it was Valentines day and all…I decide that I will create a card for Kathy rather than spend the five bucks…(as these days all my money goes directly to Leah, my 18 year old daughter)
I diligently search the web and find a design I really like. I make a hundred trips to the printer to make sure it’s going to align correctly and print right. I re-write the verse on the inside and re-position the graphics to make sure the white space is right…
I finally have it just the way I want it…I’m doing a final read through…it’s beautiful…it’s just what my heart wants to say…tears are welling up in my eyes as I think about my wife and all she means to me…until I read the last line…”I love you…Jenny!” What the…? Apparently this so-called “Jenny” must be the girlfriend of the froofie dude who wrote the card in the first place…and while I’m sure Jenny is a cool chick…she is NOT Kathy.
I could have scratched Jenny’s name off the card…but Kathy would have eventually noticed that the crayon colors didn’t match.
Time to shut down the computer, peel my pride up off the floor, and pick up a real card at Wegmans…
What a bungle! What If I hadn’t caught the mistake and Kathy opened my heartfelt card that was seemingly meant for someone else. I would have hurt Kathy’s feelings and maybe wrecked Valentine’s day for both of us. Maybe even left her wondering if the card had really been for Jenny….It could have been a mess! And…I would most likely have been apologizing far into the future instead of being able to safely poke fun at myself here.
I read a saying a while ago that went something like this. “I have never had to apologize for things I didn’t say.” That’s strong medicine right there. In context, the writer was challenging the reader to censor himself. Think through what you communicate. The message…its impact on the reader…and the possible downstream damage. We are too often ready to press “send” on a scorching email retort…when if we had just relaxed, re-read, and maybe re-wrote…the delivery might be well-accepted.
Listen…words do matter. When they take flight off the end of our fingertips or the tip of our tongue… we can’t often get them back.
These days I still rant because people still occassionally tick me off. I still write the response I want to and get it out of my system…but I never send a response to a negative email without a cooling off period. A chance to re-read and re-think. People, all people, matter to me because they matter to God. Oh I’m just boneheaded enough so that I’ll still have to write some embarrasing apologies…but my heart really is to communicate carefully and truthfully…to be salt and light…to be what the Bible calls a “sweet smell” (something well pleasing to God) (Phil 4:18)
Ephesians 4:29 – Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,(or from an email :)) but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.