Did you know that, if you google “flexibility loss with aging” the giant search engine spits out 16,300,000 hits in under six tenths of a second?
That’s a staggering number of links for information regarding a side effect of getting older that I defy on a seemingly weekly (if not daily) basis! As a matter of fact, as I approach my forties, I’m more flexible than ever!
How do I know this?
Well, from the womb, I’ve always had the ability to put my foot in my mouth. Over time, however, I’ve gotten so good at it, that I don’t even have to lift a finger or even take a step. My tongue does all the work! (just ask my wife.)
I’ve gotten so much practice over a lifetime of making stupid, insulting, and hurtful remarks (admittedly, sometimes unintentionally) that I’ve elevated the idiom of “putting one’s foot in one’s mouth” into an art form.
…and that was BEFORE the age of the internet.
Today’s technology makes it far too easy for me to add to my long list of foot-in-mouth episodes.
The allure of the instant gratification that comes with “setting someone straight” or “saying what I want” over the phone, via text, on social media, or in an email, often is too good to pass up.
After all, shouldn’t the whole world know (in as many words as allowed by the various info sharing platforms I use) when I’ve felt wronged by another party?
Plus, in a country where the constitutional Freedom of Speech protects almost every word I use in cyberspace, why shouldn’t my words reach as far as the “interwebs” will carry ‘em?
One word: Wisdom.
The Book of Proverbs states that “[the] tongue can bring death or life.” (Proverbs 18:21a NLT), and nothing can be truer. From personal experience, I know the negative power words can have.
As a young and inexperienced youth leader, I got the opportunity to speak before a church gathering. After overcoming my fears, insecurities, and anxiety over public speaking, I got lots of polite feedback from older folks in the church.
I was far from a great communicator (let alone a speaker) at the age of 15, so the kind words affirmed me for a few minutes. That is, until an innocent and playful dig from a sibling shattered me to the core.
“You were boring and monotone, and you should never speak up front again.”
For nearly two decades, that line played in the back of my mind whenever I had opportunities to stand before an audience, in church, school, and the workplace.
Those who hear me speak today find the story hard to believe, especially after having seen me perform in a band, appear on local Spanish language radio and television, emcee events, and lead group trainings.
Looking back on it, that passing comment taught me a valuable lesson, of which the Book of Proverbs reminds me daily. The tongue IS powerful, and our words can yield great power, and we always have the choice to speak life through them.
When given the choice to do so with your words, (in person, in print, or online), which will you choose?
Take it from this “flexible” old guy and harmful-words survivor: always choose life.