Kindly Correction

So, what if it’s true that the people who speak to you most honestly actually help you the greatest?

Even better, what if a true friend is the one who speaks honestly out of genuine love and concern?

What do you think about that?

One of the aspects of life in community that I most value is honest conversation. Unfortunately, I find these to be a rare commodity in our current era. If I am looking for a silver lining, and I usually try to find one, it seems to be true that rare things only increase in value.

Truth speakers help me grow in Christ, in love, in wisdom and in humility.

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While taking a stroll down memory lane this morning. I remember many past mentors who spoke plainly into my life. Some were work supervisors, some teachers and others were more mature family members and friends. Most of these leaders had my best interest at heart, but a few proved most assuredly that they did not. Regardless, by way of each one, I learned valuable life lessons.

One woman stands out today as I think back. She overheard me (on the job) bragging to coworkers about my exceptional spelling skills.

Perhaps my supervisor had not heard the entire conversation. Or maybe she was simply over the bravado from the small group of 20-something underlings. We were all quite full of ourselves as we discussed our command of the written English language.

Seemingly out of the blue, our supervisor chimed in. I mean, who knew she was even listening, but in an instant she was weighing in with her own assessments. With regards to my spelling skills, she did not hold back.

From the far end of the conference table her voice arose. I froze. My name was called out. I felt like a child about to be chastised by a parent. She did it. She corrected me in front of all of our colleagues. She listed a handful of words for which I was habitually guilty of misspelling.

My coworkers chuckled. My cheeks became hot and I am sure my entire face flamed as red as ripe cherry tomatoes.

I was dumbfounded, and truly frustrated with my supervisor. My frustration though stemmed not from her truthfulness. It wasn’t even related to her calling me out in front of my peers. It was for a reason of which you might not think.

When I was able to speak without tears choking my throat and stinging my eyes, I addressed our supervisor, “Why haven’t you addressed this with me before now?”

I sincerely wanted to know her reason for purposely withholding correction. Why didn’t she care for my development? Wasn’t she concerned for the reputation of our team? What was she thinking by ignoring mistakes repeatedly. Now she, our supervisor, sat silent. She was the one currently dumbfounded.

I asked her to please circle the misspellings on my workpapers. Right now, please. And she did.

Once she returned the papers containing her red marks circling my errors, I grabbed my dictionary to find the correct spelling for each misspelled word. She was correct. I was not quite the spelling guru I previously imagined. However, now I had the opportunity to make my own corrections. I had been given an honest opportunity for professional development.

I correctly re-wrote my work papers, and handed them back in to my supervisor. I felt accomplished. And satisfied.

Since we were working out of town, my supervisor asked if I could visit with her privately in her hotel room. After dinner, I apprehensively knocked on her door.

We had a longer than expected conversation about the events of the day. She was still intrigued by my desire for truth and correction. I guess she had anticipated an argument rather than gratitude. All in all, it was a good and honest exchange.

In the course of our conversation, I explained that I had lived deceived regarding the importance of truth for much of my young life. However, in those current 20-something years, I had met a young man who was willing to be a true friend. He was willing to tell me that my life was on the wrong path.

As I listened to him, amazed at his blunt assessment, he addressed some of the reasons for my obvious sadness and frustrations with life. Further pushing the envelope of social graces, he was willing to challenge me to read the Bible, which he called The Truth.

Before I left her room, I thanked my supervisor for speaking up, and I asked her to honestly address anything she saw in me that might need correction. I hoped she would do it from a sincere heart.

And then I lovingly cared for her by challenging my supervisor to read the Bible for herself. She said she was interested.

I’m not sure I ever worked under her direct supervision after that week. Honestly, I don’t know what ever became of Charlotte. However, I promise you, every time I begin to spell those certain words I think of this young woman with a smile, and gratitude.

Thank You, Jesus, for the many people You allow to intersect my life’s path. Help me today to be a friend seeking truth, and sharing truth in love. I thank You, Jesus, for Charlotte, and pray she is now adopted into Your heavenly family. I thank You for every Charlotte I am yet to meet. Continue to grow me up in wisdom, truth, grace and humility for Your glory, and to exalt Your name in my corner of the world.

Eyes in Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa