A few years ago, we were in the middle of flipping a house. Jason had a framer there that spoke with a mexican accent, and a plumber with a redneck dialect. At one point, the plumber had misplaced his drill and wanted to know if the framer had seen it. Both men were standing in the kitchen area, speaking English, and yet neither could understand the other. Jason had to step up and be the interpreter... please remember they were all speaking English! My story here can not begin to describe just how funny the scene was. Literally, one man would speak, then look at Jason who would turn to the other and repeat what was said. I had to leave the room so I would not laugh out loud. We have laughed many times through the years about Jason being the job site interpreter!
We laugh about this, but I wonder how often do we need an interpreter... even when we are speaking or typing the same language. In an age where there is so much communication with text, emails, Facebook, and twitter, I think we may sometimes need an interpreter for the typed word. When you are speaking with someone, you can hear their voice inflection, you can watch their body language, and you can view their facial expressions. (Obviously if you are on the phone, you have to rely strictly on voice inflection.) These cues help us to interpret what has been said. However, when we read something it doesn't always come with inflection attached. We try to add smileys or abbreviations to help, but that still doesn't always put the correct emphasis on what was said. There have been many feelings hurt, and relationships busted simply because someone misinterpreted what they read.
Recently, I was involved in a situation where something was said on Facebook in a joking, yet loving way. Another person read it, believed it to be ugly, (because this person did not have all the facts), and passed it on to others with the wrong interpretation. Now, what was meant as a term of endearment, has been perceived as derogatory, and strife was the result.
Communicating through technology is so easy. So how can we combat the misunderstandings.
First of all, we need to let God be our interpreter. When we read something that we are not sure about, we need to ask God to help us understand what was meant. Ask Him to give you a peace about what was said. You may need to ask the person who said it to clarify what was meant. If you do, you will want to do that with a peaceful spirit, not a confrontational one. If indeed you had not misunderstood, you will need God's peace to deal with it. Above all, you need to handle the situation one on one... don't call up, text, twitter, or Facebook a bunch of others to get them just as stirred up as you are.
And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Colossians 3:15
Second, we need to think before we type. Instead of just quipping something out there, we need to consider what implications may come with that. A friend of my runs this little test before she says something:
Is it true?
Is it honest?
Is it just?
Is it pure?
Is it lovely?
Is it a good report?
Is there any virtue in it?
Is it praiseworthy?
If not, then try to think of a way to turn it into one of the above before saying it or sharing it.
Think on things so great things found in Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
If we would all run this same test, I think we would have a lot fewer misunderstandings, and fewer needs for an interpreter.