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Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Thousand Words

You know that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, it’s a true apothegm, but the interesting part of that expression is to realize that those thousand words are going to be different for every person that views the picture. Perhaps we need to remember that saying when it comes to using modern communication techniques like texting and email… because a thousand different viewpoints can occur every time we send out a written message, especially a short one.

Recently I sent a text message to a relative thanking them for a Christmas present they sent me. The response I got back was, “You’re welcome”, but it also included a short sentence that could easily have been either a cordial suggestion, or more likely a biting criticism. As it is with all text messages and emails, you can’t look into the person’s eyes, nor can you get a feel for their body language or tone of voice, and you certainly can’t have that natural give and take that occurs when you’re having a conversation in person. So what did that short sentence really mean?

I stared at that text message for quite a while and thought about our relationship over the years and what might really be the “message within the message”. Unfortunately, I do not have a close relationship with this particular person and we probably never will be close because we’re two very different people with different values and different priorities. I guess what bothers me the most is that this person doesn’t like me and has made that clear to me for as long as I can remember. I wish things were different, but I realize after trying many times to make things better, things are not going to change.

Anyway, I have this rule that if I get a message that upsets me, I sit on it… and don’t respond for at least 24 hours. I think it’s a good rule because if I respond when I’m upset, I usually make things worse. So I sat on that message for a while and then decided to take the high road and believe it was meant to be positive. I chose to respond back in a very positive manner laying out a lot of detail and hoping they would truly feel the sincerity in my words. Maybe I was being naïve, but it felt good to send a positive response instead of a negative one. In fact, recently I read several bible stories involving Jesus forgiving people who wronged him and how He washed the feet of the disciples instead of the other way around. I think the genius of those examples are that they show us that the burden of “bridge-building” falls on the strong one, not on the weak one.  

And you know what happens? More often than not, if the strong one volunteers to wash the feet of the weaker one, both parties end up getting down on their knees!

Here’s a picture that’ s worth a thousand words.
It’s a self-portrait by a skilled Chinese Artist, painted
only weeks ago at the tender age of 92. Look into those eyes.
They reveal decades of life, love, wisdom and courage!
The weak can never forgive, for forgiveness is an attribute only of the strong.
~ Mahatma Ghandi

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