Good intentions aren't everything. Good intentions must be paired with wisdom, prayer, and thoughtfulness.
As a general rule, I tend to agree with the old adage "it's the thought that counts". I think intentions are important and when God looks at the heart, our intentions matter to him, even if we aren't necessarily getting everything right. However, it would be easy for us to become too focused on the fact that our hearts are in the right place. After all, very few of us walk into a conversation with our spouse with the intention of starting an argument; nor do people typically intend to hurt the feelings of a loved one, but we've all been there. Regardless of what we meant to do, we've still all had times where we messed things up.
We can mess things up when our words or actions do not match our hearts.
When I was in college, there was this one particular girl who I wanted to be friends with, and I had always wanted her to like me. I had noticed lately though, she hadn't been around the dorm a lot. I knew her boyfriend lived off campus and I wondered if she had been staying with him. In my mind, I was genuinely hoping she was doing well. Her and her boyfriend had expressed before that they wanted to be a godly couple and live for God, so I was hoping they were sticking to that and I wanted to see them succeed. That was my thought and intention, I just cared...
But lo-and-behold, the second I got a chance to talk to her (in front of another group of girls), instead of just saying "hey, how are you?", I said something along the lines of "are you even living here anymore", and everyone knew what I was insinuating. I didn't mean to be judgmental, but it certainly came out that way. At the time, the girl just laughed it off and so did I. Since I didn't have bad intentions and didn't mean it the way it came out, I didn't think about it again......until I received a chat message from the same girl over a year later.
She was writing to say that she had forgiven me. She expressed to me that at that time in her life, she had been feeling extremely insecure and wanted desperately to make some friends. She had been hoping that that semester would be a fresh start. And when I ask my insensitive question in front of a whole group of girls, she was so hurt, embarrassed and offended that I would assume the worse, that she didn't seek out any friendships.
I. Felt. Horrible. And honestly I still do. I apologized and she said she forgave me. I explained that what I said and what I meant by it were two different things, but that can never erase the fact that my words had a devastating impact on her. My words that I thought nothing about. My words that I had overall good intentions for.
It's been a year since I talked to that girl, and I am thankful she forgave me. But that whole situation taught me an important lesson that I think needs to be shared: just because you have good intentions, and you mean well, does not mean you won't hurt someone. Good intentions need to be paired with thoughtfulness, prayer, and wisdom. Be thoughtful about what you are actually doing and saying. Be prayerful about how to handle the situations that you hope to make an encouraging impact on. And use wisdom to discern how your actions and words may effect those around you (before you do or say them).
Sometimes we will get it wrong. Sometimes our well-meaning hearts will be overshadowed by our over-zealousness and wrong ways of handling the situation. And when that happens, thank God for grace. Thank God that He still sees our heart and sees our intentions. Thank God that our intentions were pleasing to him, even if our actions were not. But when that happens, also learn. Learn a lot and strive to get it right the next time.
Has this ever happened to you? How did you handle it or make it right?
*linked up with: A Life in Balance