Unintended Messages

I am an extrovert. I talk a lot. I have a lot to say. Not everyone is like me… thankfully. But I get passionate about what is happening, and I interact with it verbally… Out loud... often.  Now many of you are thinking about my husband and wondering what level of patience this man must have to take in all of my life spoken out loud messages, and there are many to be shared! Yes, you should pray for him. He is a patient man, and he loves me well by being a great listener. As I share my unrehearsed, unfiltered thoughts, feelings and ideas with him, he has learned, sometimes painfully, to wait before he enters into the conversations with me, to let me figure out what I think and believe and feel. It is a roller coaster ride for him as he listens.  When I take the time to work through my thoughts, ideas, feelings, and emotions, I can then reasonably, hopefully and thoughtfully walk through a conversation with him that we need to have together. 

Many times when I don’t take the time to filter my comments with prayer or thoughtfulness, the messages I send can be misunderstood, or cause unintended pain, hurt or confusion.  They are unintended messages. Even when I take the time to be thoughtful with my conversations with others, things can get misunderstood, and messages still can be received in a way that was not intended.

And don’t think that just because you’re an introvert that you are immune to sending unintended messages. (Although I think that most introverts have an advantage over my plethora of word custom) Sometimes, short statements when they do not provide context or explanation can be easily misunderstood and sometimes even harmful. When people are not given much information, they usually fill in the blanks with their ideas, and those are not usually positive. 

The truth is that we can hurt others by what we say or left unsaid. Think back at some of the negative messages that surface in your life from your past. Like; You aren’t good enough…  You can’t do that… Others are better than you… You should give up… I don’t’ love you… You are such a mess.

Each of us have received a message from other people, either intentionally or unintentionally, that has caused hurt. These messages can leave scars and even evolve into filters or lens of how we see ourselves; all based on the hurtful words, things said, or things not said.

As Christian, we are to offer words and actions of comfort, care, and love. There are some simple ways to help us avoid hurting others with our unintended messages. 

  1. Take time to think about what you want to say. This is a big help to me, and all us extroverts. 
  2. Watch for body language and eye contact in others to see if they have been affected by your comments or lack of comments in an unexpected way.
  3.  Practice reflecting or having others repeat back what they heard is a great tool to hear what they have understood. It can provide great insights for you.

For those of us who have been hurt by others, it also is important to not take offense too quickly. When we receive a comment from others, or they don’t say what we need to hear, that can cause pain, but before we assume the worst about that conversation, let’s make an effort to share our misunderstanding with others, and not assume the negative about them from the start. Prayer is always helpful to work through any and all of this.  

Secondly, and most importantly our significance, our real worth is found in God. When we stop to remember that He created the universe for the purpose of having a relationship with us, it makes me stand in awe. That He gave Jesus as a sacrifice, a way for us to have direct access to Him, to God, the creator of everything; our worth is beyond words. Let’s live in that very intentional message!

Read: Colossians 3:12-17


Lori Ferguson serves as Children's Director at NUMC, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not planning or teaching, she enjoys spending time with her grandkids. Read more about Lori here.