I remember running into a friend at the OB/GYN’s office many years ago. Noticing her rounded middle I smiled and asked, “Oh, when is your baby due?” “I had my baby three weeks ago” she replied.
While shopping for our first home many years ago, Ted and I were in the basement of a house that our realtor was showing to us. The family that currently lived in the house stayed during the showing and the young son had followed us to his basement. I noticed that one of the basement walls looked rather “ruffled” with paint curling and flaking off. “I wonder why that wall looks like that?” I whispered to Ted. Obviously overheard by young ears the shadowing boy loudly replied, “Every time it rains the water pours in down that wall!”
Uh-oh. No sale here today. And I’m sure the boys’ parents would have cringed if they knew what he had said to us!
I had to call DTE today to have them turn on the electricity to Amanda’s apartment in two weeks and to change the billing address so that we can receive her electric bill. “Hello,” I said, “I need to have the electricity turned on in my daughter’s apartment that she will be moving into in two weeks.” “Well, I can take care of that for you!” she cheerfully responded, “Isn’t that nice that she’s moving out and getting a place of her own!!” she added. Smiling to myself because I knew she had no idea of our whole situation, I replied, “Well, she’s twenty-nine years old, handicapped, and in a wheelchair, but we hope it’s all going to work out!”
Poor DTE lady – I think she was mortified. Her next comments came out all business as I could tell she was a little embarrassed and caught off guard. I made a few little jokes and spoke very nicely to her and I think I finally got her to relax about the whole thing.
Now I want to tell you about Dean.
Dean is blind. He lost his sight when he was a teenager. He lives in Canton Manor. Amanda and I got to meet him and we got to look at his apartment. He is doing great on his own and has wonderful staff helping him during the days. On a subsequent visit to Canton Manor Amanda and I saw Dean again. “Hi Dean!” I said to him. “It’s Laurel and Amanda. We met you last time we were here and you showed us your apartment. It’s so neat we ran into you again.” “Hi!” he replied. “Oh and I probably ran into YOU because I couldn’t see you!”
Did he really say that?
Yes, Dean did say that and he jokes about being blind quite often. Bless his heart.
Sometimes we all talk too much. Often times we say the wrong thing. It’s just human nature. A little kindness and a dash of humor can smooth out the awkward pause and the itchy uncomfortable feeling of saying the wrong thing.
There’s an ‘oops’ moment in the bible that is a favorite story of mine. I will quote the bible verses from Mark 9, condensing it for brevity sake (NIV Version) with all my comments in the parenthesis’.
17 A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. 18 Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”Jesus replied, “Bring the boy to me.”20 So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”“From childhood,” he answered. 22 “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
(Oops! Did you read what he said? Here is this guy standing before Jesus and he asks “IF” he can do anything?? That’s like standing next to Justin Verlander and asking him if he can throw a ball.)
23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus.
(I love this! I picture Jesus stifling a huge grin because He knows this poor guy is just aching over his possessed son. Jesus knows He can absolutely help cure the boy. But the poor father is so anxious that he puts his foot in his mouth and doubtfully asks “IF” Jesus can help.)
“Everything is possible for one who believes.” said Jesus 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
(Jesus smoothed over the father’s ‘oops’ with kindness – and I’m sure a chuckle – and the father was able to say the right thing in the end.)
The words we say can help or harm. Here’s to us all having an ‘Oops-free day’ !