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For the Week of July 20, 2015
by Rubel Shelly
The little boy was in a particularly bad mood that day. He had been having a hard time getting along with the other children at kindergarten. Then, when his teacher had to correct him for something he was doing, he looked up at her and said, “I can do it if I want to!”
From the look that came over her face, he knew he had stepped over the line. He was in trouble and knew it immediately. So he smiled up at her, moved his pointer finger with a clicking motion, and said, “Delete! Delete! Delete!”
Haven’t we all wished for the delete key after saying something we knew immediately should have been left unsaid? Looks like Google Mail is going to give its users something of that option in its popular email program.
One magazine calls it the “holy grail of all email functions.” New this summer, those of us who use Gmail have the option that just might have saved our young kindergarten friend a session in Time Out! To activate it, open the app and look in the upper right-hand corner for the little gear icon. Click it, then go to Settings and scroll down to Undo Send. Click Enable. Voila! You will henceforth have the option to recall any email – up to a maximum of 30 seconds after you hit “Send.”
I’ve set mine already. My chief fear is that the 30-second maximum may not give me enough time to come to my senses in some cases.
How about you? Can you recall a time with a family member or co-worker when being quick to shoot from the lip got you into trouble? Do you think of a friend from whom you are now alienated because of hitting “Send” with your tongue just a bit too hastily? Some of those hair-triggered comebacks sounded awfully cute at the time – but proved to have deadly consequences for a relationship that still should be functional. But there was no “Undo Send” button.
All of us know the danger of out-of-control tongues. We know that gossip, falsehoods, and angry retorts do so much harm. Yet we keep hitting the Send key and have to reap the bitter consequences of our actions.
As you start a fresh week with your family and at work, pray for the self-control that the Holy Spirit gives. Ask for the humility to respond to the warning signals that both the Spirit and your own better impulses send in stressful times. Try to hold back the venom that a sharp tongue can emit.
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech” (Proverbs 10:19 NRSV). Or, if I may dare to paraphrase: “Hitting ‘Send’ too quickly is sure to stir up trouble, when ‘Delete! Delete! Delete!’ is often your wiser choice.”