August 22, 2013


By Aldric

How would you wish a friend on her birthday? My personal template for birthday greetings – especially on Facebook – is “Happy birthday <Name>! Many happy returns & God bless” or a variation of it.

Do You Mean That, or Are You Just Saying?

More often than not, I would copy, paste and edit the greetings to keep a personal touch. There are things you can’t copy-paste 100%. Things like names, to say the least. As much as I’d like to wish all “God bless” and “Peace & Grace”, not many recipients will receive the message well. On top of that, it is also prone to misinterpretations.

Anyway, coming back to the real issue: HB. HB as an alternative to “Happy Birthday”.

Microsoft, Apple and other software allows users to copy-paste. A mere click of the mouse. It’s not like users must type in binary! Yet, I find many people on Facebook who cannot seem to type out simple words!

  • “TQ App” for “Thank you for approving”
  • “HB” for “Happy birthday” on walls
  • “wc” for “[you’re] welcomed”. In some cultures, “wc” refers to the toilet.
  • “Congrats” for “Congratulations”

Even if you are pressed for time – which I doubt most social media users suffer from – have the decency to type these simple words in full. Or do you really mean that?

Peace and Grace to You

I’m going to go out on a limb here. In the age of instant communication, I begin to feel that most Internet users online and people offline no longer understand the meaning to their words. You don’t have to take up the dictionary and lexicon to prepare a simple greeting. Although you may not accurately understand the meaning, but the meaning behind why you used the words you should know.

Let me take the “Grace and Peace” greeting. Peace is a common Hebrew and Hellenistic greeting in the ages past, especially in the Near East – the region now known as the Middle East. This greeting is also shared by the Arabs when they greet each other with the Arabic version/translation of “Peace be with you”. (To adhere the various laws in Malaysia, I am not allowed to type out the actual greeting. It is illegal for a non-Muslim to use Muslim terms under the various religious laws and enactments. This is also to ensure I do not confuse my Muslim brothers and sisters.)

In the New Testament, the apostle St. Paul wrote to the various Christian communities with “Grace and Peace”. (Link Suitable For Non-Muslims. Contains Christian doctrines and understanding. Readers’ discretion is advised: Grace and Peace)

For me, by wishing people grace and peace, I’m not wishing the mere state of grace and peacefulness. I am also wishing that the Lord’s abundance pours onto and emanates from that person. The state of grace, for Christians, means the state of being saved by Christ because of their belief in Him (John 3:16). For non-Christians, the grace I wish them is God’s continuous bounty onto them. That through grace, they may accomplish whatever that means to them. That they may grow in their faith, in their character and in their profession.

Similarly “peace” for Christians is because of the gift of the Holy Spirit with and within them. It is the peace that comes with the conversion and sanctification, leading to the glorification at the end of days. And peace for non-Christians, includes the wish of peacefulness and harmony. For both, I wish that no harm may come upon them and their loved ones.

More importantly, I believe that Christ died “once and for all” upon the Cross. Whether they believe in Him or not, I am not the judge. Because God’s Peace and Grace through the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension is God’s own offered to all, I am in no position to limit or withhold those great gifts. I merely pass them along through the words I offer.

Simple, but Meaningful

You do not have to be philosophical or theological in the words that you use. But, in my humble opinion, your words should be meaningful. It may be meaningful to you, to the recipient or to the both of you. Personalised meaning means more than a mere thought of meaning.

At least have the decency of typing the Wall posts or message in full. Don’t be a cheapskate, especially with those who mean something to you.