Boy, can I put my foot in my mouth.
I can't tell you how many times I've been corrected, rebuked, reminded, pleaded with, punished, warned, you name it, for the things that have come out of my mouth and for the things that people are justifiably afraid will come out of my mouth. I have had a deeply seated belief, for a very long time, that I can't say the right thing no matter how hard I try, and that if I do say the right thing, it's only an abherration.. The "real me" can't do it, after all.
I was in a meeting last week. I was particularly relaxed and just "being myself". That, for me, is living pretty close to the edge. As much as I was enjoying myself, part of me is always poised for the bomb to drop. Sometimes I recognize it myself as it's rolling off my tongue. Other times, someone points it out to me afterwards, but the fear of 'blowing it' is always there.
Imagine my surprise when someone at the meeting, Carolyn, took me aside afterward and said, "You always know just the right thing to say." (She emphasized the word "just".)
I laughed. Right out loud.
She looked slightly taken aback. Could it be she didn't get the joke? I quickly explained. "I NEVER say the right thing. I get in trouble ALL THE TIME for saying the wrong thing." I laughed some more. She smiled, but she didn't laugh with me.
"Sometimes," she said, "our greatest weakness is also our greatest strength. God can take that weakness and turn it into something really good, when we yield it up to him. When you speak from your heart, and passionately, like you did tonight, others feel welcome. It makes them feel like a place has opened up for them and then they can be more open and speak from their hearts too."
It had been a good meeting. A really good meeting, where words flowed and hearts connected. Belinda wrote this about it:
Last night a group of writers who are Christian gathered. What went on was not just about writing, but about ministry to one another's souls.
It all sounded nice, what Carolyn was saying, and I appreciated her efforts to be nice to me, but I was still shaking my head and enjoying the irony of her words as compared to the message that had come to me all my life long. God use my words? Maybe on occasion, but not as a rule. No, just the opposite was true. I sure had her fooled. Wait until she really got to know me. She'd see...
On the way home, her words echoed in my heart. For some reason I found myself turning them over and over in my heart. I think it was the humour of it all that I was enjoying all over again. I even said them out loud a few times. "You always say just the right thing..."
"No, I don't." I answered to myself.
And then I heard a still small voice, "Yes, you do."
My heart was instantly on fire. I know God's voice when I hear it (sometimes, anyway!) and if this wasn't him, then I'd never heard him. My perspective was changed in an instant. Until that moment I was approaching every opportunity with fear. "I sure hope I don't say something wrong," I would say to myself. A common prayer before every social situation had become, "God, please help me not to say the wrong thing."
Now suddenly I could envision myself walking into a room with an entirely different attitude. Instead of being afraid of getting into trouble, I could see myself saying, "I always say the right thing," and then waiting to do just that!
It's true. It's working. Not that I don't ever slip up, but I've been expecting God to use my mouth instead of my foot being in there all the time and he is! It's been fun sitting in a meeting and waiting to see what "right thing" will be coming into my head and then hearing it come out of my mouth. When I focused on my weakness and looked to the negative, the negative came. What I'm finding is that when I give that same weakness to God, in his hands it is turned into the purest gold.
"A word aptly spoken, is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11 NIV
Thanks, Carolyn, and thank you Father-God for a word aptly spoken after that meeting. A word that has turned my perspective upside down and right side out.