I’M HOPING THAT the stretching exercises I do down at the gym will soon make my figurative ability to put my foot in my mouth a literal one too. Because I really need to develop that kind of flexibility so I can give myself a swift kick in the pants the next time I am tempted to say something dumb.
See, I have this tendency to want to lubricate what seem to me to be awkward situations with a stab of humor. Sometimes it’s cute and clever and a welcome balm. And sometimes, well, I’m a jackass.
Like this week, when I was painfully reminded that it’s not a good idea to invoke your closest and dearest relationship as the source of the humor if the other person doesn’t know about it and hasn’t signed off on it. Perhaps especially on your anniversary.
When Marcia winced at something I said about us in a group of friends, I dismissed it until later, when she tried to explain how hurtful my comment had been. I did my best to apologize, though to be honest I quietly thought that she was overreacting.
Then the penny dropped, the light bulb went on, and the chickens all clucked as they came home to roost. As I reviewed what I had actually said, I realized it had not been what I had intended to communicate, but something not only unflattering but simply untrue. A costly cheap laugh. As I acknowledged what I’d done wrong, Marcia was her typical, forgiving self, but I couldn’t easily shake the sick feeling inside.
This episode is not a lesson in the importance of repentance in relationships, but a reminder of the responsibility we have to choose our words carefully. James 1:26 comes to mind, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”