By Reba Phelps
One day, a few years ago, while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook I noticed that a childhood friend of mine posted about being diagnosed with cancer. After the shock set in I sent the friend a private message and quickly tyed, “I’m so sorry, I’m praying for you.” Pretty much a standard reply to the ups and downs of life occurrences posted on social media. I am ashamed to admit that it is almost an automatic reply in some cases.
Just as soon as I clicked send I noticed that it had suddenly auto-corrected to, “I’m so dirty, I’m partying for you.”
As far as technology has come over the years one would think that you could merely erase it, delete, double delete or there would be a special 911 button to erase stupidity. No, this would not be the case. I helplessly watched as the message was read by the recipient and was prepared for whatever backlash befell my complete act of boneheadedness.
I fully anticipated the friend (or soon to be former-friend) to screenshot the message and make a new post stating that they have never in their life seen something so callous and cold. I totally deserved whatever came my way.
As I sat there in a puddle of sweat beating myself up and already planning my apology I noticed the conversation bubble pop up as they were writing me back. It seemed like it took three eternities for them to respond. Then the bubble went away.
Oh gosh, they are speechless now and cannot even respond to someone who is so insensitive.
Maybe I could claim that I was hacked. It happens all of the time. Someone hacks your social media accounts and then posts terrible things that you would normally never say. I could wait a couple of days and then post a simple statement that reads, “I am so sorry if you received a strange message from me via messenger. I was hacked.”
In the midst of all of my plotting and worrying I heard a simple ding that alerted me that I had received a message. I was prepared to accept my fate.
Much to my surprise, my friend opened up about how much this message made her laugh. She had received so much sympathy and cookie cutter replies offering prayer that she really needed a break from all of the condolences.
I could not believe that I had worried a few months off of my life for nothing.
This event did teach me a valuable lesson that I still think about today. So many times we are so quick with our mouths to offer words with empty meaning. I was always the first friend to let you know that I was praying for you but the chances of that sincerely happening was very few and far between.
It is so easy on social media to live your life on auto-pilot and just click “like,” “love,” and “wow” without much thought behind it. It is even easier with your closest friends to join a meal train, say a few nice words and move on to the next order of business for the day. If we do not stop and remind ourselves to be sincere and show love then we have not accomplished anything.
I will always truly believe that God used this moment to humble me and make me slow down to really truly feel what someone else is going through, show more empathy, and to stop living such a shallow existence. He has changed me so much over the past couple of years that you can bet the farm that if I tell you that I prayed for you then I sincerely meant it. If I tell that I am cooking for you then I will.
For the first time in all of my adult life, my closest friends will tell you as well, we will hold hands and pray in public if needed and they know if I say we are praying then we are.
It only took forty years to learn this lesson and out of shear fear you will rarely see me type the words, “I am so sorry, I am praying for you,” because in my mind I just said, “I’m so dirty, I’m partying for you”.
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” – 1 John 3:18