For a person who loves to see words flow across the page, I sure get tripped up by the ones tumbling out of my mouth!
Like the time I told my Sunday School kids that cucumbers become butterflies. Yep, cucumbers! Quite the miracle! Watch out when you next open your fridge, you never know what you’ll find flying around in there. Especially when those older vegetables get a little fuzzy…
And once, when I went to give my husband a ride home from work, I stopped at the security gate to check in. The usual phrase is “Pick up, AP36.” Instead, I blurted out, “Large Diet Coke.” Either I’d been going through way too many McDonalds’ drive-thrus, or I really needed some caffeine right then. Either way, it was just one more example of my tongue’s seeming to have a mind of its own.
This time? I was describing S’mores to a group of 3rd graders: “First you have two graham cracker squares. Next, gooey chocolate. Finally, that big melted mushroom.” I didn’t even realize what I said ’til all the kids yelled, “MUSHROOM?” Yep. Elizabeth Daghfal apparently makes really weird S’mores. I think they’d probably re-name them “N’thankyous.”
Sometimes with my phrases, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Meaning, the connotation means a whole lot more than the actual definition of the words. Like when I gave a presentation for a committee: Someone had added paragraphs of overwhelming tiny-fonted, unnecessary text to the PowerPoint, and it was too late to change it. In explaining to the audience what I wished I could correct, I waived it off with “Just ignore the small print.”
The entire room roared.
The worst part? It took me a full week to figure out what was so funny!
And those are just the silly examples. I won’t even repeat the “open mouth change feet” ones. Or worse yet, “insert other foot.”
I now have a standard request when I start teaching a new group of people. “If something comes off my tongue that makes absolutely no sense, or heaven forbid, offends you, please come talk to me. I guarantee I never meant it the way it sounded!”
I’m so thankful for the grace that most have given me over the years.
Makes me appreciate Peter in the Bible—a man who tremendously WANTED to pursue Christ, but just couldn’t get his mouth to cooperate.
- One minute, he promised to follow Jesus even to death; the next, he denied Him to maids and military alike.
- He declared Jesus “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” but just a few verses later, when Jesus explained His death and resurrection, Peter had the audacity to rebuke Him: “[That] shall never happen to You, Lord.” (Mt. 16:22) Like Peter could now tell God what to do!
- And blessed to visibly see God accept Jewish AND Gentile believers the same way, Peter first announced, “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we did” (Acts 10:47, NIV). “God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith…through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (15:9, 11). BUT with a little peer pressure from some Jews, he withdrew from the Gentiles, aloof—this time not speaking when he should have. (Galatians 2)
Oh, boy, can I relate!
Isn’t it fascinating that early in history at the Tower of Babel, because men decided to make plans together that didn’t involve God, He confused their language so they couldn’t understand each other? (Gen. 11)
I’m so thankful He didn’t leave it that way.
Cue Pentecost: After God’s “Word” (John 1), Christ, came to live with us and die for us, God’s Spirit settled on the apostles, like tongues of flames. Suddenly they were able to speak in different tongues that weren’t their own—so everyone could hear and understand. (Acts 2)
Now, I don’t see “tongues of flames” over my head like they saw in Acts, but I know the Holy Spirit is here to help and guide me.
Do I think before I speak? Ask Him for help?
It may not stop the silly slips here and there, like cucumber and mushrooms, but it would certainly help in those faux pas where my size 8s are so firmly embedded, I don’t have any clue how to pull them out.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Ps. 19:14).
I’m left praying,
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Ps. 141:3) because “rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18, ESV).
Or to put it like Maya Angelou,
“Lord, please keep Your arm around my shoulders and Your hand over my mouth!”
(Unless otherwise noted, Bible verses are taken from the NASB translation)