Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Great Deleter

At my sister Holly's suggestion, I am reading The Greater Journey by David McCollough. I was really excited to read a tidbit about one of America's early wonder-boys. If I ever knew it, I had forgotten it. Samuel B. Morse, famous for inventing the telegraph, was first and foremost an accomplished artist! For a time, he studied under a particularly difficult task master who  praised infrequently, but was forever criticizing and showing Morse his mistakes. Morse resented this at first, but came to realize as his skills blossomed that "a flatterer is no friend."
"To really improve," Morse said, "I must see my faults."

I think most of us prefer flattery. I think most of us shrivel and become defensive under honest critique. Our self worth somehow becomes wrapped up in what we do, and a perceived attack on how well we do that thing becomes an attack on our personhood.  I know that in my weakness, this is true of me. It is very difficult to take criticism, however well intended or true. In Asherel's Gavel Club, criticism must always be presented by the "sandwich method"- the suggestions for improvement sandwiched between two comments of things the speaker has done well. This is a very good strategy and I need to employ it more often. It definitely softens the blow.

While I was checking my facebook page yesterday, I saw a post by an acquaintance about Sexual predators.The article was a sobering look at the dangers of sexual abuse and how to protect our children. Right below that post, was a video my sister had sent of some dangerous stunts. She added the caption, "sure hope my son doesn't see this."
I laughed at that because her son is a daredevil and I can recall many episodes of life threatening stunts he has pulled in front of my eyes.
So I typed my response, "Oh, knowing your son,  he has done all this and more!"
Chuckling, I pressed SEND.  I sat back to continue reading as my post appeared on Facebook. With absolute horror, I saw that I had responded with my little joke to the wrong message...I had posted my remark under the Sexual Predator post, and had just assured that acquaintance that her son had done all the horrid things outlined in that article...and more.
How do I get out of this!? I cried. Fortunately, in my wild punching of buttons, I found one that allowed me to delete my response.
Oh Lord, I prayed, I hope I deleted it before she saw it.
Then I read a post that said hackers are squirming into our facebook accounts and posting things that are really nasty and defaming.  One of my friends sent out a preemptive disclaimer:
"If you see any facebook post that seems out of character, please know it is a hacker and not me speaking."

I am thinking I should send out a similar preemptive post. In fact, I think I should just wear a sign that says that as well:
"If anything comes out of my mouth that seems uncharacteristic, it is a hacker...not me speaking."
I think this would protect me from myself. I am not as strong as Samuel Morse, I decided. When I do and say stupid things, or paint bad pictures, I want to be able to press a Delete button and have a do-over. I don't want to learn from my mistakes....I just don't want anyone to see them at all. I don't want to make the mistakes in the first place.

But alas, there is no delete button on me. And try as I may, I am usually replete with things that could be improved upon.  So I suppose Samuel Morse has the right idea. To really improve I must see my faults. Morse was a very devout man, and I think he was able to endure criticism by men because he was so convinced that in the end, all his imperfections were covered and forgiven. This is the best message of the Gospel- God sees our hearts and in His mercy, all our sins are indeed, deleted, and He promises that the Hacker will never overwrite the message of forgiveness.

 2 Chronicles 6: 29-30
29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

2 Chronicles 7:
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

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