The way I write tends to be different than how I talk. I generally talk in long-winded rants that may or may not end up anywhere close to where I initially intended. I talk and then my brain plays catch up. A good friend often says, “I never have to guess what you’re thinking.”
When I talk, I just go. My thinking tends to run in the same direction as my words, but about three strides behind. I don’t realize what’s come out of my mouth until I’m a sentence and a half down the track. This is not a great way to live if you give much credence to what others think of you.
When I write, I’m very intentional. I like to finesse the words and their order thoughtfully before going on to the next paragraph. I’m much more aware of the potential impact of my writing than I am of what comes out of my mouth. The thing I love most about writing is not sharing my experience, it’s not even connecting with the heart of another person, it’s the Control-Z function on my keyboard. I stinkin’ love that thing.
Control-Z, or Command-Z for us Apple folks, takes the very last thing you typed and simply annihilates it. If you Control-Z two, three or four times…it’s like traveling back in time. I suddenly feel like I’m C.S. Lewis and Elizabeth Gilbert; eloquent and precise.
…See what I did there? Gilbert not Gilverg. Control-Z, baby!! I cleaned up my mess before you even know I made one.
Type type type. Error. Control-Z. Bam! Never happened.
Type type type. Is it ‘buck naked’ or ‘butt naked’? Control-Z. Do-over!
Type type type. You cannot say that. Control-Z. Much better!
The real problem is that my tongue does not have a Control-Z function. Oh, how I wish there was an app for that. It could snag those words back before they ever hit the air. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. It’s already out there. I can scurry to clarify or explain, but the damage is done.
I’ve found that the forgiveness function is a pretty powerful one as well. It’s not quite as clean or simple as Control-Z, but it can have a similar result.
The fact is, forgiveness is much more powerful than Control-Z. Forgiveness builds a bridge. Control-Z is a game of cover up. Forgiveness humbly says, “this is the truth of who I am; I’m working on it and want to be different.” Control-Z says, “you’ll never see my faults.”
We become so much more relatable when we acknowledge our insensitivity and shortcomings. We make amends, take responsibility, ask how we can make it right, and learn from our mistakes. So, until some genius comes up with the Control-Z Tongue app, I will continue to work at thinking before I speak.
It’s just so hard! If I think before I speak, I’ve forgotten where I was going by the time I remember I’m not talking. When I hit Control-Z I’m reminded my words and deeds can impact others. I’m reminded I need to take 100% responsibility for 100% of what’s mine.
May I suggest that Forgiveness is just relational Control-Z all lathered up in vulnerability and authenticity. Give it a try. It may change the rest of your story in a beautiful way. It certainly has mine.