Sometimes I’m hilarious.
Intentionally hilarious as opposed to falling-smack-on-my-bum-on-the-top-deck-of-a-bus-on-a-first-date kind of hilarious.
I have moments when the banter is flowing, my wit is at full pelt and I’m looking for every opportunity to chip in with my next perfectly crafted punchline. I can feel the words speeding off my tongue like a rollercoaster creating a rhythm to the conversation where each person is trying to outwit everyone else.
But you know exactly the moment it happens. When It Goes Too Far.
Suddenly people aren’t laughing but frowning, the sniggers become muffled and you realise you’ve Crossed The Line.
It’s happened so many times to me. My tone has been a little too sharp or patronising; I realise I’ve kicked someone exactly where it hurts the most. I’ve said something cruel, demeaning or even downright racist. Surely I’m not that kind of a person, am I?
Those excruciating moments – when you just want to crawl under anything you can get your hands on or disappear like they do in Star Trek – can teach us so much.
It’s in those moments that my privilege, status and the depths of my prejudice are exposed – in front of a whole crowd. They cause me to examine whom exactly I have issues with, to question who I think I am to put others down quite so spectacularly and why my own insecurities lead me to do this.
Equally there have been those times when a word of encouragement, solidarity or support has affected me so deeply that I have felt transformed even in the seconds in which it has been spoken. After all it was the ‘Word’ that came alive full of grace and truth to set us free.
Our words have power. A gentle word can heal, a harsh word can destroy a relationship, a joke can stick for a lifetime. Words have the power to change how people feel about themselves, their view of the world and outlook on life. James describes the tongue as being like a fire (James 3:6).
Today, let’s start a revolutionary spark, fuelling our words with grace and truth.