Today let’s talk about my ailments. Among other things I have been diagnosed with foot-in-mouth syndrome. Have you? If you’ve ever started to say something that you began to regret around about mid-sentence, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m learning to avoid saying things like: “Congratulations! When is the baby due?” Just wipe this from your vocabulary. And this: “You’re only 52? I’d never have guessed that.” Or, “That yellow shirt sure brings out your teeth.” Or, “Honey, this is good soup. But you should really try my mother’s recipe.” Or, “If it makes you feel better I’ll pretend you’re right.” Don’t say it. Nothing gets me into more trouble more quickly than my words. So if like me, your feet see more of your mouth than they do of your shoes, here are a few quick suggestions:
1) Be the fastest draw in the west when it comes to apologizing. Ready? Let’s practice: Sorry. Did you beat me to it? Usually the word sorry goes over far better than any excuse you can come up with. I so badly need to humble myself and apologize rather than try to explain to a dear friend how the angle of the lighting, my near-sightedness and the fact that she was carrying a watermelon to her grocery cart caused me to think she was expecting. Sorry can bring about laughter. Let’s try it more often.
2) Make sure your words are like Lego. When the purpose of our words is to build others up, we’ll never be short of friends. Proverbs 15:4 says, “Gentle words are a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Anyone can pick apart what’s wrong with people, but find the gold in others and tell them about it.
3) Learn to zip your lip; it may save your life. Proverbs 21:13 says that “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Enough said.
I once phoned applying for a summer job. A high-pitched voice said “Hello.” I said, “Is your husband there?” There was silence. “I am my husband,” he replied. I took step one that night. I apologized sincerely. And the next day during a job interview I took the next two steps and I got that job. In fact, it lasted for three summers.
Today may we live with our feet in our shoes and not in our mouths. May gratitude and joy characterize our speech. And if one of you dear ladies gets a call from a guy who says, “Is your mother there?” Just respond, “No. My husband won’t let her live here.”