Foot in Mouth Therapy

I realized the other day that I haven’t had the energy to sit down and blog for several months. Somewhere between multiple Google calendars and Facebook and multiple modes of communication life over-shared with me.

But fortunately, I spent the last week with two of my brothers in one of Panama’s beautiful islands Bocas del Toro.  There is nothing like a week with family on an island with your cell phone on airplane mode to revive the lost art of conversation. Talking face to face was great but it also afforded me many opportunities to put my foot in my mouth and to regret the way I communicated my thoughts and feelings. I had to ask for and receive forgiveness for misspoken words. An unexpected side effect was that I found myself wanting to slow down my words from verbal to written. Writing, it seems, as much as I hate it is one of the disciplines I need in my life. Writing compels me to pause, reflect on my day-to-days, and interact with Jesus — in helpful ways. The optimist in me hopes that it all translates eventually into fewer moments of foot-in-mouth.

The realist in me doubts it. For instance, I love movies. No problem except that my opinions of movies sometimes escapes from my mind unfiltered to my mouth. It is not that I regret bringing up my opinions but rather that I regret how and when, and with what tone and posture that I delivery my opinions. Note to self: sometimes it’s OK to leave a movie a movie without critical analyses. It really is.

Anything can turn into a foot-in-mouth moment for me. One happened as we returned to the USA and watched person after person have their fingerprints taken although they had committed no crime. It got me thinking about America’s immigration policies.

The whole issue of immigration is highly politicized and misunderstood by all sides, but it is one that, as a Christian who lives in America I continue to wrestle with. What do I say to a student who wants to go to a conference but can’t fly because he is undocumented? What do I tell a student to do who confides she is undocumented and can’t get a job without false documents? What is my role in the conversation as someone who has never experienced the multiple invasions of privacy that comes with being an immigrant in today’s USA?

Really how do you talk about wrestling with the issue of immigration without putting your foot in your mouth? I don’t know because my first impulse is to rant about the fear based invasion of privacy that affects both immigrants and those of us born here.The problem is that as soon as my rant is over I get this pit in my stomach feeling which is the result of pedi-indigestion.

Anybody share in my pain? I’ve been told that I am too opinionated. I’ve also been told that my bluntness can be liberating, but off-putting. I don’t reject those observations. I want to learn from them because as someone called to teach and preach and lead and learn for the sake of the gospel, I have to communicate well. It does nothing if it’s clear as day in my head but clear as mud coming out of my mouth. Worse if it’s mud slung out of my mouth.

So I continue to struggle to develop my “voice” because at the end of the day, I don’t want to be the angry, religious, guy who can’t just enjoy a movie or let something slide until there is a better time. Perhaps this sounds like something one who “doth protest too much” would say, but I really don’t take life seriously all of the time. I have a lot of fun, and I like to think I am fun to be with.

So here I am writing to make myself slow down and maybe, just maybe, keep my foot where it belongs instead of in my mouth!