Warning: Navel gazing to follow…
In my life I have discovered that the words “I’m sorry” are among the most useful in my vocabulary. I am the type that needs utilize this phrase often. The good news for those of you who have needed it from me is that I mean it when I say it.
Some time back Ebenezer put up a great post on online caricatures over at a bird’s eye view. I was afraid to comment because I knew that my online caricature at the time was better than my real self. I had been humbled by life and that humbling had peeled away a lot of my less desirable character flaws. I wanted to bask in the flattering light while I could. The truth is that I may be a better, gentler, nicer, more level-headed person online than I am in real-time life.
Here is my problem – honesty. Or perhaps a more apt description might be that I lack natural gentleness in communication. I am not particularly good at keeping my honest opinions to myself. I am not always as diplomatic or as patient as I could be. Call it frankness, directness, bluntness if you want, but the truth is that I have always been somewhat of a bull in a china shop. So why is the bloggernacle good for someone like me? Because writing responses gives me time to think and measure my words before I blurt them out. An advantage I have is that I really do love people. I really do want people to be happy, successful, righteous, etc. So when I have time to think about what I’m saying it allows me to consider how the way I’m saying might affect their reaction.
Now don’t get me wrong – I am quite proud (even arrogant) about some aspects of my natural frankness. I’m the kid who points out the emperor has no clothes more often than not. But that tale doesn’t mention that the emperor probably had that kid drawn and quartered for his honesty. Bluntness can be a two edged sword. It can make you friends and it can make you enemies. It helped me rise to the top of some businesses I worked for, but as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, my petulant honestly has lost me at least one job.
Ok, I’ll brag about that here too: That happened early in my career when boss of mine (who I was less than impressed with) gave me a scathing annual review after coming in the last six weeks of that year to be my supervisor. I of course gave her an unsolicited and impromptu scathing review in return. Hers made me irritated and mine made her cry. Strangely, I was among the first round of layoffs two months later. (It was totally worth it though).
So as you see, I suppose am torn here… I think my frankness is problematic at times but I remain a bit smug about this characteristic in myself too. The world has need of diplomats and bulldogs. I am naturally a bulldog but I have diligently worked at being a diplomat when needed. I really don’t like offending people, but I don’t mind offering some tough love either. I just recognize that offending someone is not a sin in itself. Christ was so offensive to people that they killed him for it. So when the message is accurate I rarely apologize for it. I do however find myself needing to apologize for my delivery quite often.
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge… (D&C 121:41-42 italics mine)
So I feel ok about most of this list… (persuasion) I try to persuade, (long-suffering) I can keep at it, (meekness) I’m teachable, (love unfeigned) I believe I really do have charity for others, (kindness) I have kind intentions, (pure knowledge) I try to have my facts right… But the one that still kills me is Gentleness. I’m much gentler now that I used to be and sadly I still have a long way to go.
So there you have my half-confession, half-brag… Help me out here. What do you think of my condition? How badly do I need to repent? I’m not quite sure still so in the meantime it looks like a sincere apology will remain a standard part of my repertoire.