I just completed, then immediately filed away, an entirely different blog post. I need to let it stew a bit. I'll come back to it with fresh eyes later on, maybe send it off to a couple of friends to see if it's still the sort of thing I want to say, the sort of thing that is helpful. Last night, Courtney and I were talking about the words we use, how we use them, when we use them, why we use them. My wife is a woman of wisdom and self-awareness.
Truth be told, I've been doing far more deleting and editing in the past few months than I've done writing, both on my blog and a book I'm working on. For ever hour that the words flow, I spend two hours revising them, deleting more words than end up in the final draft.
The trend has sloshed over, I think (I hope) into conversation, even social networking. Of course you can't edit already uttered speech. You have to own your words, either by apology or affirmation, once they've left your headspace. But what I have been able to do is a sort of pre-editing, letting words bounce around, asking myself more questions before letting ideas fly.
If you know me personally, the change has been minor; I continue to be a man with a rubber jaw and 90wpm fingers with a mind of their own. But if you know me at all, you'll know that any sort of pre-thought is drastic improvement, and it's amazing how much trouble and tension a few small edits, a few backspaced words on facebooks, a few extra questions instead of lengthy fix-it answers, or even a few immediate apologies for uttered word or text, have saved me. Speaking of apologies, as it turns out, apologies don't ruin your reputation, they make people respect and trust you more; your humanity gives space for other people to be human as they relate to you. It took several mistakes and apologies to learn that. Which makes me wonder why more (read: any) political candidates didn't apologize for and own misspoken words. Maybe next go around I'll just vote for anyone willing to apologize for anything.
This isn't about being passive aggressive, at one time I would have said so. But, am I speaking words in order to 'be right' or to make myself look intelligent or thoughtful? Am I defending my words to save face, or because I actually believe them? My commitment to writing, while sometimes a little snarky, flows out of the fact that I've been set free to see Jesus largely through words I've read from others who were willing to say difficult things to me. Sometimes they had to use wit to tear down my idols at the risk of making me angry, but they were willing to do it because they knew there was something better to be built, something that I think God is building right now. These writers did so carefully and thoughtfully, plowing up my hard heart word by thoughtful word.
There are enough thoughtless, angry words, floating around in the world today, often church approved words, which I think are far more deadly than any of the four letter words that Christians freak out about. As I writer, as a person, as a follower of Jesus, I hope to minimize my contribution to history's vomit pile.