Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I Heard

I was half awake, but here's what I caught on the morning news from a local radio station:

"Thanks for the memories -- there's lots of ones of 'em!"

On the plus side, this comment was made to a friend, and it was only a poor grammatic construct. On the minus side, it was recorded and broadcast because the speaker is the outgoing president of a major university. He's leaving his post here to become head of a national collegiate athletic association. (I won't name him here because I may have mis-heard his statement. Just covering my bases, so to speak.)

Golly gee whiz, we all say things that come out wrong. My mom used to say that she had foot-in-mouth disease. As a kid, I thought she should be able to guard her tongue better than that. It wasn't that she said anything foul -- in fact, she made a point of never swearing -- but either her timing or her content were sometimes very unfortunate. One time, visiting with folks after church, I heard her ask an older man, "Where's your big old fat wife?" His reply? "Right behind you."

Oh, mymymymymy. Unfortunate timing and content, indeed. Mom was always able to laugh at herself, but this was a biggie. She hadn't intended to say anything derogatory; she was just being silly, and out it came.

I did much the same thing recently. In a lighthearted moment, I said something that ended up sounding very racist. Me?! Racist? I'm too embarrassed to recount the details here, but it was one of those foot-in-mouth moments. I didn't realize the potential for harm in my comment until someone else reacted uncomfortably. Oh. (Unlike my mom, this is where I might have said, "Damn.") Well, the words were out, and I couldn't erase them.

The letter of James brings both a little reminder and a bit of comfort.

Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect person, able to bridle the whole body as well.

Teachers, public speakers, politicians, and people like me who know better. We all make slips of the tongue, and sometimes these errors are aired for many to hear. No one is perfect, but I'd better pay attention to the silly things I might say... before they escape my lips.


1 comment:

Sandra said...

Katharine -- All of my life I've had people tell me I was a "quick wit" -- meant to be flattering, but not always a plus. And it sounds like your mama's is of the same ilk. We tend to look for the punchlines in life, always wanting to entertain those around us. But the downside of that is that something comes out of our mouth that once out there, is unintentionally hurtful to someone.

I THINK as I've gotten older I've gotten better at thinking before I speak, but boy it's hard because my little pea brain is just full of punchlines waiting ti jump out through my mouth!

I guess the biggest plus to this foot-in-mouth disease is that it makes me realize regularly how imperfect I am, and how much I need my perfect Savior to intercede for me with the Father.