My morning on the Renaissance Faire site started out as it usually does: double checking supplies, lacing bodices, making up crazy lyrics to familiar songs, talking in movie lines and half accents...playfully bantering with my fellow hairbraiders.
So it caught me off-guard when one of my friends reacted very strongly and negatively to a comment I made. I meant it as banter. Slightly sarcastic, admittedly flippant, but honestly meant as jovial. It was a harmless. But what I didn't know is that there was a whole lot of extra details to her initial statement. I even foolishly tried to defend myself -- walking through brief exchange and letting her know where my intentions were and why I said what I did. But then she started listing all the things I didn't know, I felt terrible. You know that feeling when your stomach sinks and you just wish you could take it back? When you feel two inches tall? Just like that.
On one hand, I didn't know. I couldn't know. My words were not meant to be hurtful. And there was no way I could have had all the perspective I needed to recognize that this was not banter. It was deep and emotional and "real life" stuff.
On the other hand, when in her chastisement my friend said, "Well maybe you should think before you say something." She was right. (Perhaps a bit harsh for the situation. But right nonetheless.)
For the rest of the day I thought long and hard about that. About how my speech should be intentional. About how as an adult I've consciously changed my habit of speaking to move away from sarcasm and double-meaning statements...because it's just too easy to pass off real cut-downs and malicious statements as jokes. In fact, it's for that very reason that in my last relationship I specifically told my boyfriend that I didn't want us to let sarcasm be part of our dynamic. I wanted him to always trust the things I said and wrote. No secret wondering as to whether I was joking or serious. And I expected the same from him.
Words are powerful. They build up or tear down. And once they are out there, they can't be taken back. I had gotten lazy, and my friend has a point. My words should be thoughtful and beautifully coordinated for the occasion. Ironically, I have a reputation for doing just that -- for finding the right word and being careful about what I say. I think that's why her correction threw me for such a loop. It's something I care very much about and I blew it.
It was an innocent blunder. But it reminded me that if I truly want my speech to build up, then I have to be careful even in my banter.
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11