We all struggle with things. Our struggles often present themselves in different forms, but we all seem to fight the same battles. One battle we all fight is with our tongue. I really lost a battle this week!
I really enjoyed our Thanksgiving break this year. We had a smaller gathering at our house than previous years, but we still had a great time with family and friends. We feasted, played games, and laughed a lot. It was quite enjoyable. At least most of the time was. Things became a little less enjoyable when I decided to speak.
My Beautiful Bride will tell you that I am not all that great in social situations. I am rather awkward and clumsy when it comes to actually holding a conversation. Now I am quite good at talking! I can spew forth plenty of time-consuming thoughts on practically any subject matter, but trying to actually converse with another human being – that is a more difficult task for me. I often think that it would be much simpler if people would just sit there and let me talk – that is so much easier for me. Why does everyone always want to take part in the conversation? Don’t they know that I have the most important stuff to say anyway?
I jest of course (mostly). But I have come to realize that the whole back and forth of a conversation is quite a challenge for me. The worst of it all is general small talk, when there is no real topic of conversation. Just talking about anything and everything with no great purpose behind it other than holding a conversation. I am absolutely a mess when I am in a situation that requires small talk.
I proved my failures with small talk this last week. I won’t go into great detail, but I said something rather dumb. I know that this knowledge shocks you, but I did. We were all getting our food for the meal, and thus were standing in line waiting for our turn to load up a plate. A perfect opportunity for me to practice small talk! So I began trying to say something funny. I said nothing that was wrong or improper, but what I did not realize at the time is that my words were not very gracious.
I had no idea what I had said that instantly made things uncomfortable, but even I could tell that there was now a tension in the air. So I did what comes naturally, I dug myself deeper in the hole. I just took a second run at my “joke” and made things worse! Those around me were quite gracious, and they tried to help, but the conversation started to stall. Everyone started getting quiet and looking around awkwardly. But I, true to form, just kept on trying to talk my way out of it. Suffice to say, it did not work. I am so happy that we were sitting down to eat. Once I finally started shoveling food into my mouth things started getting better.
Later that night, after everyone was gone, I remembered my foolish statement. I started trying to figure out why it had caused such a derailment of the conversation. It finally dawned on me that my “joke” had hit very close to a painful subject in the lives of some of those around me. There were a few that had recently faced difficult times and were still dealing with some of the pain. I began to realize how insensitive my comments were. And the more I talked – the worse I had made it. There have been a few things bouncing around my mind ever since:
- My tongue will get me into trouble quicker than anything else. I need to always be on guard and try to think before I speak. I must learn to be a better tamer of my tongue.
- I need to be more aware of those I am speaking with. I need to be sure that my words are spoken with grace, gentleness, and kindness.
- Just because someone says something that can be taken as offensive does not necessarily mean that they meant it that way. If I want others to be forgiving of my failures, I should be willing to forgive them for theirs.
- When I see the conversation starting to get awkward, I have really got to stop talking! I need to learn that more words never help – they only make things worse! I have got to learn how to hold my tongue!
I don’t know if my attempting to learn from my own foolishness is of any help to you at all, but I know that I have been reminded of some things this week. Have you ever derailed a conversation with one unthoughtful statement? How do you remind yourself to think before you speak?
Sure, you can send this article to anybody you want. And, if you’re REAL awesome, you’ll even tell them where it came from!