Spilled Out

As I was grading papers at school one day, I received a text from my husband that read, "we r all n." When I responded "What?" he explained that he had spilled half a gallon of paint on the carpeting in our home office. Fortunately, the carpet was old, and we were planning on ripping it up anyhow.

Now we were "all in" and there would be no turning back from the upcoming floor project. Meanwhile, until we could afford to remove the carpet, the colored, crusty spot was an ever-present reminder of what spilled paint can do. Words matter.

Whether written or spoken, they have the power to color our world with life or death (Proverbs 18:21). Because we live in a hyper-communicative society, our communication extends thousands of miles in a matter of seconds. From cell phones to Twitter, we have the power to influence others in an instant. Often, we text or e-mail what we refuse to say in person because we feel a measure of safety behind the inanimate keyboard beneath our fingers. Frustrations are bound to arise when we live in relationship with others. Like paint soaking into carpeting, however, words cannot be gathered up and their effects held back. Crusting over hearts, harsh words continue to speak long after we've had our say, even in the shortest text, the quickest tweet. Wrongfully perceiving electronic communication to be benign, we are still accountable, maybe even more so, for what we write. Erasing our sent box takes only a moment; words we wrote last a lifetime. We can say we're just venting or even claim our arrows are well-deserved, but the fact remains: If we claim to be religious but don't control our tongue, we're just fooling ourselves, and our religion is worthless (James 1:26). , Regina Franklin
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