Monday, October 17, 2011

Love Talks: Edited to Death

"Miss Ward, can I show you my story?" a little voice said. I looked down to see one of the seventeen first graders I was working with that morning. "Sure, let's take a look!" I said enthusiastically.  "I wasn't sure how to spell this word," the girl said, pointing to one word amidst a whole slew of misspelled words. I looked at her illustrations to see if I could determine the meaning of the sentence from the pictures she had drawn. Nope. I had to ask. "What are you trying to spell?"  "Brushing," she said. We sounded it out, and, with much help, she corrected the word. "Thank you!" she said, and turned to go back to her seat. "Wait," I said, "what about the other words?"  It was a fatal mistake. I had allowed the "editor" part of me to take over, and there was no stopping it now. We painstakingly corrected "am," "teeth," and several other words on the page until, finally, the exasperated and wiggly child blurted out, "Are we done now?"

It was then that I realized, this little editing session had been no more fun for me than it had been for her. She took her work back to her seat, and I was vaguely aware that, for all my editing, I had not given her a single bit of encouragement for her drawing, her creativity, or her hard work. I had been focused completely on the negative--the stuff she had done wrong.

In the Love Chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, we are told that love "Does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth."  Sometimes, like an overzealous editor, we can get so focused on the negative in other people that we completely skip over the truth of who they are. We miss out on some of the most important things because we are too busy trying to "fix" what's wrong.

Technically, I was doing my job with that child. I was pointing out and helping her fix her mistakes so that she would become a better writer. But if I was so intent on fixing errors that I caused her to become hopeless and discouraged, I may actually have done more harm than good. The enthusiastic, creative spirit of this child could have been "edited to death" because of my preoccupation with the faults of her work instead of the good points of it.

I've learned my lesson, and I will try to use that child's story as a reminder to "rejoice with the truth" of the good in people instead of becoming "delighted" or preoccupied with the bad. Certainly, editing and correction has its place, but that place is never to kill, but rather, to build up.

Are you "editing" someone to death?  For one day, try turning off the editor and thinking of only good things about him/her. Rejoice with the truth of who that person is, and you may learn things you never knew about him or her. Remember, when God looks at those of us who have been saved, he sees only the righteousness of Christ. Maybe we should do the same. :)


  1. Very relevant to me with my younger siblings! Thanks. :)

  2. Hmm. It hasn't been too long since I felt that I might be doing that to someone. I have an idea of how something should be written, and I feel that my changes are important. However, sometimes my ideas actually aren't as important as I perceive them to be. In fact, sometimes I'm wrong. But, even if I'm right, I have not always been tactful with my words, and have hurt people's feelings as a result. Our words can mean a lot to some people. Although criticism can be good, it is better to choose critical comments wisely, and promote the good whenever we can. . .

  3. I love you LaJoie... SOOO SOOO SOOOOOOO True!! I wish I had a copy of this blog five years ago when I was moderating critique groups. Over-editing is the most common mistake overzealous beginning writers make when they try to support each other and learn by joining crit groups.

    Thanks SO MUCH for the reminder... because not only is it relevant to writing, but to life as well. My daughter's report card came today... and I noticed the two erm... less than brilliant grades... and glossed over the "expected" high B's.

    I think I need to do a little... un-editing with my baby girl.

    Sister. Keep up the good work!

  4. LaJoie, you are such a blessing! As I was doing a bit of Biblical reseach on the topic of joy, the Lord led me to this post. I see now how 'over-editing' in the lives of those I care about robs both me and them of God's joy. Your post has been a great reminder to me to encourage the positive, and use 'editing' only as I would 'salt', sparingly and to season and preserve another's joy.
    I praise God for the incite and for the writer's heart He has given you, and for how you have chosen to use these gifts to honor Him!

  5. I love this one :) People are all different on the outside and inside. Editing them would be like editing God's artwork in a way. Thank you for writing this!