I learned something yesterday. I learned about word bombs.

I was reading this morning about the latest bombing attacks in Iraq. My mind can’t comprehend that someone would strap explosives to their body and then blow themselves up, killing themselves and doing whatever damage they can around them, usually killing and wounding others. They come into a group of unsuspecting people disguised in ordinary and harmless clothing, and then wreak their havoc. They are intentional in what they do and it disturbs me greatly. How do you fight that?

In a way, we are all guilty of that. Not with explosives, and usually not intentionally, but we wreak the same kind of havoc with written word bombs disguised in ordinary and harmless sentences, written supposedly out of love. Our victims? Usually someone close to us.

I found that out yesterday when I replied to an email. The recipient was caused unintentional pain, pain that could have possible been avoided if I had actually talked with her face to face. I felt the emotions as I wrote the email: the love, the compassion, the hurt for her, the sorrow, and the frustrations. But she didn’t see those emotions in my writing. Perhaps she should have based on what I perceived as our relationship, but she didn’t. She had too much pain and frustration that she was dealing with herself. And boom! The word bomb goes off.

Word bombs will do as much damage to a relationship that suicide bombers do to their victims. Word bombs can kill a relationship. Word bombs can tear off arms that once reached out in friendship and love. Word bombs can rip into legs that once hurried to someone’s aid or support. Word bombs can send their shrapnel into hearts, piercing them deeply and causing the emotions, the feelings for someone, to slowly drain out. Word bombs can destroy the trust, turning the friendship into a mangled wreck.

I’m not saying that’s what happened to this friendship. At least, I pray that it didn’t. But it could happen, very easy. We who write should guard our words like James in the Bible tells us to hold our tongues. With our words we could start a fire that could destroy much more than a single relationship. And that is so very sad.