It happens a million times a day it seems. Everyone is playing nicely and then all of the sudden someone starts wailing and comes to me, tears in their eyes, accusing a sibling of causing bodily harm by some means or another. The accused always has the same response, “but I didn’t mean to!” Sometimes the “accident” happened because of someone “innocently” swinging a stick around, sometimes it was a careless case of tossing toys, or an “accidental” kick or hit that was never meant to hurt anyone-- or at least that is what I am told, over and over again. No one is my house is ever guilty, by their account. I hate to admit it but my kids are a lot like me. I, too, claim that, “I didn’t mean to!” when I look at the wounded relationships in my life. And, in part it is true- maybe for my children as well as myself. I don’t think any of us means to be mean, our intentions are usually not truly malicious and yet each of us hurts others by our actions, over and over again.
I have been trying lately to be more conscious of the choices I make and the words I choose to use. Being a Christian and treating people with kindness is not a hobby or a part time job that we can do when we feel like it and avoid when we don’t. It just isn't okay to hurt people even if our insensitive words or inconsiderate actions are made without malicious intent. Yet, I, like my children, try to justify careless words or accidentally hurtful actions by claiming, “but I didn’t mean to!”
When my children come to me with their innocent explanations, saying things like, “All I was doing was swinging the stick in my hand and she walked into me”. I try to patiently point out what is so obvious to me, that such “accidents” would not happen if they weren’t swinging sharp sticks to begin with. If only they would think before picking up sticks, the pain could be avoided. I think God must see things similarly. He knows when we are not trying to hurt others, He knows when our intentions are not malicious. Yet, He also sees when we are playing with fire, so to speak. If I did not “pick up” thoughtless words, or selfish bad habits I might avoid spreading a lot of hurt, myself.
I am sorry for the times I have hurt others unintentionally by “innocently” thinking only of myself and “accidentally” tossing around mean words. I know that, just like a patient mother trying to teach her children kindness, God wants to help us all to be more aware of the feelings of others and the consequences of our actions. I have been praying that He will help me to think before I speak, think before I act, and especially think before I react, so I will spread more love and less pain and hurt. I hope, in time, my children and I will all learn this valuable lesson.