Rarely does the wrong usage of the words “there”, “their”, and “they’re” pass my eye unnoticed. I learned the proper spellings of these homophones (among others) in middle school, and I prided myself on being able to use them correctly. I was genuinely confused that others couldn’t get them straight, and I found camaraderie with other Grammar Nazis who shared my passion for the proper spelling of such commonly used and confused words.
We found more frequent opportunity on social media to express the humor/confusion/frustration associated with people who just couldn’t get it right. One click of the “like” button on one of those memes tied me together with the like-minded intelligencia.
But as I learn more about true humility, with the hopes of it sinking deeper into my being, I’ve been questioning the pride of being a Grammar Nazi. I will likely always know the difference between “your” and “you’re,” but I don’t have to advertise the fact on Facebook. It never makes people who are not naturally gifted at grammar say, “You’re right! I’m going to work on getting all those homophones right so I stop annoying you!” And I don’t blame them. They’ve got better things to do.
There was a time when many of our grandmas, grandpas, great-grandmas, and great-grandpas didn’t have perfect spelling scores. But some of them sure knew how to fix a car, or till the earth, or put the best meal we’ve ever eaten on the table. My grandmother used to crochet tiny dresses for tiny dolls, in all sorts of color combinations. She kept them in a display case, in front of which I would spend quite a bit of time when I visited as a child, admiring her creativity and trying to determine which one I liked best. And now that I think about Grandma in the context of this post, I recall that she never had the best spelling skills, but we always considered that more endearing than anything. Grandma’s strengths are elsewhere, and she continually uses those strengths to bless the people she loves.
If we focused on the good others bring instead of what they lack (barring really evil people), maybe we’d be less-agitated and less-irritated people. Maybe we’d be more grateful, more peaceful, more happy. Maybe we’d judge ourselves less for the ways we fall short of our own high expectations. Maybe we’d learn from others and they’d learn from us (something other than grammar lessons). And maybe we would actually start to become the change we wish to see in the world.