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Ignore once

If you have worked much with MS Word you know that a red squiggly line means they think you have misspelled a word, squiggly blue is a formatting error and squiggly green is a sentence fragment. It’s the last of these that gets most of my attention. A word is either spelled correctly or it isn’t; I rarely see the blue line, but Word and I have a different understanding of what a sentence fragment is so squiggly green and I are well acquainted.

I’ll spare you the details but suffice it to say that Word’s parameters for a sentence are fairly rigid so that anything that falls outside those boundaries is labeled a fragment—whether it is or not. This is where it gets interesting. When you right click on the squiggly green line, it says in greyed out words:  “fragment (consider revising).” Right below that is option #2: “ignore once.” It’s the “once” that catches my attention. It’s as if the MS Word people are telling you, “Okay, if you insist on ignoring this we will allow it—but only this one time! If we see something else that looks like a fragment, we will most assuredly bring it to your attention.”

And they do.

Here’s where we come in. You can view this squiggly green line as either being helpful or being a hassle. I have decided to view it as helpful. The squiggly green line tells me that what I’ve written is not understood by them to be a sentence and maybe it would be understood that way by someone else. If you’re in the business of writing, that’s not good so you may want to consider revising something—even though it is a sentence so that it has greater clarity. From my perspective, it’s just part of due diligence.

If you think about it, what’s true in writing is also true in life—there are lots of squiggly lines out there. We come across them at work, at home, in relationships, etc. People question something we said, something we did (or didn’t do) and everything in between. For most of us, these lines occur regularly but not overwhelmingly so. They are just part of life.

Like many of my sentences, squiggly lines don’t always mean that we’ve done something wrong—they are just a yield sign telling us to slow down and check things out. They help us to be conscientious. They help us to stay humble. They help us to be whole and not fragmented. 

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17).

I have to tell you this. You can’t see it, but MS Word just did a squiggly green line on Proverbs 27:17! How serendipitous. 

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