I'm not sure when it began, but I've developed a habit of saying stupid things out loud. Some have been more regrettable than others. In high school I recall being slapped after noting to a young lady that she was "like an elephant, she remembered everything."
The filter between the squeaky wheels in my brain and my mouth is highly unreliable at times – ask my wife.
A brief contemporary history may suffice to prove my point. In a recent meeting with colleagues at work, while negotiating the most mundane project details, my mouth struck again. I said something to the effect of, "let me extend a fig leaf here and propose…"
After I finished the sentence, a voice from across the table said, "Damon, if you could keep your fig leaf in place we'd appreciate it…but, I'll take an olive branch if that's what you mean."
Not long after, while discussing a business regulation with a client in south Georgia, I described the issue as a "show me yours and I'll show you mine kind of situation" – based on his discomforted body language, I believe he thought I was attempting to proposition him.
My most memorable gaffe occurred during a New Testament course at seminary. After breaking into small groups to work on an assignment, I noticed a fellow student had an edition of the Bible exactly like mine – except smaller and in paperback.
Without thinking – as is my custom – I thumped my copy of the sacred scriptures on the table, looked him in the eyes and said, "Mine's bigger than yours!" I think we both blushed a bit – I still laugh hysterically every time I think about it (providing further explanation for my absence from ministerial service).
Certainly, I don't constantly walk around saying dumb things. But in situations where I'm comfortable with my surroundings I have a tendency to let me be me. This doesn't always result in a story I have to live down. On occasion (albeit rare) I've been able to share something that was helpful to another, even if I didn't realize it at the time.
There are those who never say anything seemingly ignorant or crass or untoward – guarding every single word with great care. But, I wonder if the risk of never saying any stupid is never having the opportunity to say anything truly meaningful either?
Jesus said a lot of things that must have sounded insane to those around him. He was constantly going around saying things like, 'Your sins are forgiven,' 'You are healed,' and 'The kingdom is near' – things that often seemed to displease people for one reason or another.
He told all these crazy parables that no one seemed to quite understand – then or now. And he even had the audacity to say that we should 'love our enemies.' Yet it is precisely the counter-cultural and unorthodox sayings of Jesus that have made his message so significant for two millennia (no matter how much we Christians have mangled it).
Jesus took the risk of saying things that made him a bit unpopular – his death by crucifixion attests to that. But it is precisely those words, spoken by the one John called The Word (1:1), that have meant so much to so many for so long.
Surely there is no analogy between my blabbering and Jesus' timeless message. But, I'm hopeful that by being open enough to say the ridiculous at times, I'll one day be able to risk sharing even a hard truth when it matters most.
-D. Christian Nix lives in Gainesville, Ga., and is a graduate of Georgia Tech and Mercer University's McAfee School of Theology. He blogs at A Gospel for the Disillusioned.