Did You Just Say _________ Flakes?!
I left a blank in the title of this post because I didn't want it to be flagged as obscene or automatically dismissed by your filtering software. Insert the word “penis” where the blank is and I've got an interesting, true story that's worth the telling.
I got home late Saturday night after participating in a 24-hour prayer and worship event with friends in Oglala, South Dakota. It was a great time and I came back feeling spiritually renewed and energized. I had taken my daughter's iPod charger with me and was returning it to it's spot and plugging in her device when the words popped up on the screen. Even worse, it was a private message from – GASP! – a boy.
I could feel anger rising up inside me. What unclean thing just said those profane words to my 17-year-old daughter?!
Well, it happens that I knew this young man, which made it even more upsetting. I thought pretty highly of this guy, and to think that he was talking like this to my baby-girl… it just didn't sit right with me.
I had all sorts of thoughts instantly jump into my head.
• I'm cutting my girls off! They are never gonna see communication from the outside world again!
• BOYS! I knew they were evil!
• Disgust. How could these two people that I love and care about talk and use this kind of language behind my back?
• Flakes?! I wonder what this even means! Probably some new slang I need to catch up on.
Thankfully, instead of acting out of my emotions at the time, I decided to let my sleeping daughter lie and, instead, messaged this young man a simple question: “Why is there a message that says “penis flakes” from you to my daughter? I'd like to know, please.” Simple. Straight forward. Direct. I got this message back in the morning…
Hahahahahaha! Oh boy. Well if you looked at the previous conversation, we were talking about autocorrect. And I, too, had this moment where autocorrect made me look bad. I was talking to this one girl on Facebook and she decided to ask me what was up. So I said, “Nothing much. Just eating breakfast.” And then she asked me, “What are you eating?” and I told her I was eating Frosted Flakes. But autocorrect changed it from “frosted” to… that other word. And then I never heard from her again. It was kind of an inside joke from a longggggg time ago and I didn't realize how immature or inappropriate the phrase was until now so I truly am sorry and I promise I won't say something so weird and inappropriate again… Hope you can forgive me.
I immediately messaged him back, saying, “Forgiven.” As soon as I read it, I vaguely remembered my daughter telling me about this instance on a car ride home from school about a year ago. I thought his response was pretty mature. We ended up chatting some and that was the end of that.
My favorite part of the message was his typed “nervous laugh” at the beginning of his response.
My daughter and I laughed about it later in the day. She knows that I was just trying to look out for her, and in retrospect, we both found the whole exchange hilarious.
A day removed now, I'm thinking back to my initial reactions and how the whole thing could have ended much differently if I had overreacted out of anger. Anger can be such an ugly monster. And I know, in my years of doing student ministry, that I've let it negatively affect how I've reacted to students in the past.
I know that there's a story of Jesus turning over tables with a righteous anger and that's legit. And I'm sure there are opportunities where a righteous anger is the appropriate response – maybe even in ministry. But I'm willing to bet that being slow to anger and offering obscene amounts of grace is much more in character with Jesus. God is so much more about restoration and healing than He is finger pointing and placing blame.
Take it from me. Sometimes it's just better to let the flakes fly… and let them land where they will. Okay. Bad analogy. Sorry.
Take it from me. Don't react in anger. Been there. Done that. Don't feel as good about sharing that story.
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