It’s much easier to think about the pain others have caused us. To victims, such pain is real and often difficult to overcome. Conversely, we don’t give the same degree of attention to the harm we may have caused others. Just as real, most are guilty (whether intentionally or inadvertently) of doing or saying something that caused another much grief. For the Christian—one who truly loves God—the thing to do is to be genuinely remorseful and earnestly apologize.

The ensuing ode comes out of my reservoir of complicated experiences from which I have learned and grown. Perhaps it will encourage someone else to find a way to overcome a breach.

Words are really very small; yet they carry so much weight.
The problem with them all, though, once uttered it’s too late;
To take back what’s been spoken, erase what’s already run;
Or make like, “I was jokin,” when the damage has been done.

They sometimes help or hinder, they cause us so much pain,
They often make the sender sound like, “He’s insane!”
If one thought before one speaks, worked hard to be more kind;
Unlike old faucet leaks, words are born within the mind.

The sad truth about it, the danger I’d even say,
Is whether whispered or shouted, words often get in the way;
Of an otherwise good time, a really pleasant sorta date;
Subvert what was sublime, can even make you lose your mate.

Words are peculiar tools, may work in or out our favor;
Leave us looking like fools, no other words could savor.
Language, speech, communication, it’s all the same old thing,
Can make or break a nation, enthrone, dethrone a king.

The ones I said of recent, I know hurt you really bad,
They didn’t come out too decent; I’m sorry, and very sad!
Just know most times my head, and few, few times my heart
Is the big dummy who said, those things that weren’t too smart.

Please try hard to get by them; I’ll work hard to think twice.
My mind can supply them—kinder words that sound so nice;
That encourage and bless you, that give joy and help you live;
Words I want to caress you, if in your heart you can forgive.

Authored by Dr. Reginald D. Terry, 1992

Some view Omaha as a rather exilic existence; as if it were some lonely island. As intimated in a previous posting in many ways I have been “in school”—learning valuable lessons about life, people, relationships, me, and more especially our God. I haven’t been making all A’s; but I am making progress. One such lesson is about establishing lasting relationships. They’re important and they require hard work. To create them people must be willing to give others the very things we each need from others when the-shoe-is-on-the-other-foot. A few of these things are:

1. Room to groweveryone is not where you are. Just because they are not in the same place (as you) does not mean they are in a wrong place; they could just be in a different place. In order for them to forge ahead and for friendship (or any relationship) to survive, it may likely take time. Lighten up! Give them a break! Learn to give others room to grow!

2. Freedom to chooseFree speech is our nation’s first constitutional right and privilege; and the freedom to make independent choices is inherent within it—depending on if those choices are not (1) criminal, (2) consciously offensive, or (3) sinful, unethical, or immoral. We may not agree with the decisions others make, but everyone should have the freedom to choose! One clear exception is you cannot give this choice to children too soon—if you do, they will eat candy for breakfast, and have ice cream for dinner every day. (smile)

3. Opportunity to make mistakesIt is a natural (especially parental) human tendency to want to help others avoid the pitfalls you have already overcome. Regrettably, some just won’t learn the “stove is hot” until after they have touched the burning cylinder. As tough as it is for us (at times) to have to watch, people need the opportunity to make mistakes.

4. The rare privilege of hurting us deeplyNobody likes pain; but human relationships are saturated with it. There’s no way around it. When nurturing relationships, hurt is inevitable. Look at it like this: if a woman is to ever bear children, she must be willing to experience pain. Likewise, we must all become vulnerable if relationships are going to make it. People should be given the rare privilege of hurting us deeply! Keep in mind I said, “rare” privilege; because if it is more repetitive rather than rare, then that’s called abuse. One should not have to endure repetitive, un-redemptive pain or abuse.

5. The assurance of one’s unfailing and unconditional loveeven after insult and injury, people need to know the relationship can and will survive. This is key for moving forward and getting past potentially deal-breaking breaches. Fellowship may be broken (for the moment), but everyone needs the security of knowing the relationship remains intact—even if you have to love them by long distance for a season!

Mrs. Fannie Kirksey was a 4’, 10”, about-a-hundred pound, 87 year-old-lady who went home to be with the Lord. Her husband (of sixty-eight years) passed a year earlier. As I stood at her bedside after her transition, her tearing daughter asked me, “Pastor, did mama ever tell you the story behind her ring?” A single, very thin, silver band rested on her frail wedding finger—no precious stone; just an inexpensive solitary hoop. I told her, “No.” She then related how her mom and dad purchased this small piece of metal as her wedding ring by mail order over sixty-nine years ago for only one dollar. Mrs. Kirksey never took it off. I was speechless! Incredibly she wore it for sixty-nine years—a year beyond her husband’s departure. Can you imagine that? For sixty-eight anniversaries, sixty-eight birthdays, sixty-eight Christmases, sixty-eight Mother’s Days, sixty-eight Valentine’s Days, she never wanted a diamond to go with it, another new set; nothing! I wondered why. As if Sister Kirksey was speaking from the other side, I heard in my spirit, “the reason I never thought to replace my ring was simply because I was married.” In that moment, the Lord said to me to add one more thing to the list of five things needful for making relationships last. Here’s the sixth and final principle:

You must always be careful to treat people more importantly than you do things! If it actually wasn’t Ms. Fannie who said it, she surely should have. Man, if we could learn this one, we’d be so much further up the road towards making our relationships more meaningful and lasting, all to the glory of God!

Thank you, Mrs. Fannie Morgan Kirksey! You are sorely missed!