Thanksgiving Challenge Day 12

I had my post all typed out for the day, but my iPod crashed and lost it. Maybe that’s for the best. It was kind of lame. Makes me think of how many times God has blessed me by helping me to leave some things unsaid.

Thank You for all the times You’ve helped me keep my mouth shut. I’ve said plenty of things I’ve regretted but we both know there would have been so many more without your intervention.

Words That Change the World

Several years ago, I did an internship at a church where I had a friend named Matt.  Matt had a crush on a young lady named Amy, who also attended the church, but the poor guy couldn’t figure out if she felt the same way about him or just liked him as a friend.   Every day he would fill me in the latest developments, and every night I would come home from work and update my wife on the unfolding saga. 

One day Amy decided she actually did want to go out with him, and I couldn’t wait to see my wife to tell her that they were officially an item.   Everybody loves juicy gossip, right?  So, when we met for dinner that night, I just blurted it out.  

Now, here’s where things went bad.  What I meant to say was, “Guess what?   I have big news.  Matt has a girlfriend.”  However, what I actually said was, “Guess what?  I have a girlfriend!”

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Open Mouth, Insert Heart

Several years ago, we had a big event at my church, and I had to wear a wireless microphone to address the crowd. You should have heard me that day. I was brilliant, eloquent and, as you can tell, dripping with humility.

That was all about to change.

Soon after I stepped off the stage, I had a run-in with a leader who was driving me crazy. I don’t even remember what it was about, but I do remember boiling with frustration.

The second he left the room, I turned to a friend who had witnessed the whole thing, and I zinged my nemesis with a perfectly worded put-down behind his back. I have to admit it felt good. It was funny. It was clever. It was cathartic. But it was about to come back and bite me.

I glanced down at my side and saw that the switch on my wireless mic was still on. Every word of my mean-spirited comment had been broadcast to the entire church.

I thought I was going to throw up. Minutes before, I had been on stage thinking I was really spiritual, but now everyone in the church would know what a total jerk I really was. Jesus once said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Now, everyone knew what was in my heart.

I returned to the worship center ready to eat crow. As I made my way past the sound booth toward the stage, I looked over at the mixing board and saw a beautiful red light winking at me. It indicated that my microphone had been muted from the booth the whole time. Whew!

It goes without saying that I learned a huge lesson that day about keeping my big mouth shut, but the real problem was far worse. I cared more about my reputation being ruined than the fact that I had such vindictive junk in my heart to begin with.

As I write this column, the entire country is freaking out over the damaged BP oil well that’s spewing gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Rightly so. Anything that can unleash that level of devastation needs to be reined in fast. Ironically, though, we give little attention to the devastating power of our words.

Every day we spew toxic junk at the people around us. A cruel barb. Juicy gossip. A harsh retort. Imagine if someone recorded our words for 24 hours. I think we’d all be a little shocked at what we’d hear.

Looking back, I’m thankful for my brush with embarrassment. I’m thankful for a wake-up call that reminded me that every word counts, especially the ones I speak in secret. It is these secret words that reveal the true content of my heart.