Have you ever seen Pollyanna? It’s a Disney movie in which a little girl transforms her fellow townsfolk from gloomy, drab, and hopeless solely by the force of her chipper, happy disposition and her kind words.
During my brooding, melancholic teen years, my mother would often use Pollyanna as her touchstone of comparison, saying things like, “I’m not trying to be a Pollyanna” (she was IMO) “but is there anything GOOD that you can say about the _____________ (date, teacher, friend, test, play, disaster)?” This would make me scowl and skulk away, defeated in my gripe.
Like Pollyanna, however, my mother was not easily swayed by a grump. She would offer cheerfully, instructive comments like “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Sheesh. That left me with almost nothing to say.
Another doosey “mom-ism” that squelched my griping and gossip was her admonition, “Ask yourself: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” With a bit of mental effort, I could sometimes rationalize my thoughts through the truth and kindness filters, but I could rarely beat necessary.
Sigh. So much of what I have to say just isn’t necessary.
I’m sure many of you, upon reaching adulthood, have discovered the strange phenomena that is–having your mother’s voice trapped in your head. Then subsequently, there is the even more bizarre reality of HAVING HER WORDS COME OUT YOUR MOUTH.
So, in spite of the fact that I no longer live with my mother, her lessons on positive speech still follow me and are now some of the aphorisms that I pass on to my own children.
Because, you know, there are very few things that I regret NOT SAYING. As usual, my mother was right.
Maybe this is what has compelled me, as a blogger, to develop a new comment policy.
The freedom with which we all can offer up our thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the internet is certainly a blessing, but I think it is also a responsibility. Our words can be tools for exhortation or weapons for crushing. I’m sure ALL of us have experienced frustration and even hurt from comments and interactions online that were not always TRUE, KIND, or NECESSARY.
Maybe, you, like me have to honestly confess that we’ve been guilty of using words hastily, to be sarcastic, crass, or cruel.
I don’t want to be that kind of writer. I don’t want this to be that kind of blog. There’s enough of that in the world.
With that in mind, a comment policy will appear above the comment form of my posts. I think this policy will also keep me accountable as I attempt to express my meaning helpfully, without hurting others or being snide.
THUS, the guideline for us in what we say on this blog and the comment thread will be:
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. 30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. 31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
Maybe this strikes you as a goody, goody, Pollyannish, sticky-sweet move, but that is not my intention. Being a careful speaker or writer will only strengthen us all and enable us to better help each other. We can still tell our stories–even the ugly ones. We can still faithfully spur each other on toward love and good deeds (Heb 10:24), but we can do it graciously.
Are you with me? Can we do this?