Anyone that knows me well, knows that when it comes to confession opportunities in prayer, mine are almost always about a mouth that says too much. And I’ve been true to form of late.
Saturday, when picking up Jack at birthday party, I had the chance meet someone new. She was so nice. And our kids will be in the same grade next year. But, rather than ask her about herself and her four beautiful children, I jumped into a conversation about my own child. It started with her asking a couple questions about him, then led to Jon’s & my decision to hold Jack back (start 1st grade this coming year rather than last) since his birthday is so close to summer. We didn’t make the decision in a vacuum. And though holding back might appear like we’re setting the bar low, we tried to decide what is best for him.
So where did my mouth go wrong? It said too much. Rather than simply being content in our decision, I began to justify – out loud – why we made it, as if she and my other friend standing with us cared. I went down the size road (see how small he is?), threw in his naiveté, added an admission, “He still sits on my lap at church,” (eek!) then went too far. “And, really,” I paused – and should have taken the opportunity to stop, “our pediatrician said, it’s not about whether or not he can make it in 1st grade, it’s about the Jr. High locker room. We’ve lived that locker room with our oldest. And it’s brutal. We don’t want that little kid facing budding men, especially with him being so, well – not savvy.” Yeah, that fear of the big meanies iced the cake. Ridiculous.
Still, as I said it, I did a mental confirmation about his lacking savvy as I remembered him dancing like no one was watching at his school’s Field Day the day before. His age-appropriate flailing arms and skipping feet, that I find endearing, confirmed in my mind, that yes – we’ve made the right decision. Here in Texas, the trend is to hold boys back in kindergarten. I don’t know why everyone does it – maybe for sports, maybe – I don’t know. But the fact is, almost everyone does. So since Jack is young for his grade, and since he could easily be 2 years younger than his classmates, the consensus was to grab the four month difference and do 1st grade next year. Still, I question. Jon doesn’t, but I do. Because, besides talking too much, I’m catatonic when it comes to decision-making.
Decisions like these are far from black and white/right or wrong. The truth is – sending him forward would be fine, too. Maybe better. I don’t know. But I do know I said too much.
“When’s his birthday,” the new acquaintance asked.
“Oh – May 1st.” I answered, then waited for her confirmation that yes, always better to hold back.
“Hmmm…,” now she paused in consideration. “I have two kids with May birthdays. … And we’re not holding back.”
At that point, I knew I had offended her. All my justifications looked like judgement. She politely excused herself. And I felt horrible.
Then I did what I seem to always be doing, I found her before leaving and apologized. I’m not sure if it helped anything. I’m probably forever parked in her weirdo, overprotective mom category. We really don’t even know each other. But, I hope we can laugh about it one day.
It made my stomach hurt. I would never intentionally offend and I certainly have no room to judge. I just talk too much. My over-chatting even went so far as to make me question our decision. “Did we do the right thing? Have we ruined him?” I over-dramatically asked Jon when I got home. And, I wished I could have gone back, grabbed my words, and relived a brief moment in time, but I can’t. So I will chalk that conversation up, along with so many others, as a learning opportunity. Hoping that someday I will learn.
It’s not a single incident, unfortunately. I had to apologize the day before for over-chatting with a different friend about an issue facing someone for whom we care deeply. I chatted with positive motives. And, though I didn’t start the conversation, I participated, saying more than I should.
Then later, after realizing I said too much, I apologized to my friends, both to the one with whom I was chatting and to the one we chatted about. It’s not fun calling a friend and confessing over-talking. I really don’t like doing it, and I wonder what my mea culpa’s must make them think about me. But I just can’t live with any of it hanging over me. So I say I’m sorry. Because I am.
What could I have done different?
When meeting someone new, at the pool or anywhere else, I could ask questions. My word, I could have learned so much. I lost an opportunity to get to know someone by over-chatting. And in my little expressing mutual concern conversation, I should have stopped and encouraged the friend I was talking with to call our hurting friend rather than opining. I could have used our chat as an opportunity to check on the person standing in front of me – how her life is going, how her kids are doing, rather than discuss someone who isn’t there. Even when the discussing means well.
Instead I open my mouth, opine … and apologize a lot.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing. I’m guessing I’m not the only one. But maybe I am. The moral of the story: talk less, listen more. And fill the tank before spilling out. One of the most affective antidotes to over-talking is to put more Wisdom in than words that come out.
In that effort, I’m so grateful to be involved in a Summer Bible study. Boy do I need it. I need to bathe in the Truth that the Lord loves and accepts me, that I don’t need to be afraid, that He doesn’t expect perfection, that He can take our good and bad decisions and work them together for good. Then with my eyes on Him, I can get my eyes off me and see the people around me. Studying Truth and walking alongside women who live life out loud. And hold me accountable. And put up with my/make-me-stop … talking. (Yeah, good luck with that!)
Thanks for walking the road with me…. Have I said too much?