I have a joke.
Actually, I’ve got more than just one, but this one is incredibly embarrassing and painful to tell in its original version. The revised joke goes like this. My wife doesn’t like when I buy her flowers. She responds to the gift of flowers with, “Why spend all that money on something that’s just going to die?” I then point out that we have three dogs.
Here’s the embarrassing and painful part. I used to end the joke by saying, “I then point out that we have three kids.” The moment I realized that the joke was wrong was when I told it in front of a group of married couples. As I said the punch line my eyes locked with a woman I knew who had lost a son at childbirth. That was the night that I changed the joke forever, because my humor had unintentionally become a weapon. The joke was still moderately funny after the change in wording, as I feign humility here because I think it’s a very funny line, and still receives a good amount of laughter. But my heart had been changed.
I can honestly tell you of multiple times when my humor has hurt someone. You’re probably thinking, “Multiple times? You’re a jerk.” Perhaps the truth is that none of us are great with controlling our tongues. James would back-up that statement. Who can control their tongue? If you can, then James says you’re able to keep your whole body in check. So unless you have Ryan Gosling’s abs reconsider calling me a jerk. And if you do have Ryan Gosling’s abs my wife would like to meet you.
The opportunities to offend or say the wrong thing at the wrong moment occur every single day, so I’m thankful for the mercy of God that He doesn’t kill me every time I say something bad. Instead he offers grace. The same grace I should extend to others when their words hurt me. In her T.E.D. talk Kathryn Schulz said, “Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we could do better.” So, let’s do better with our words by submitting them to Christ.
Garland Owensby is a comedian, published author, speaker, and professor at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, TX. His comedy can be heard on XM/Sirius satellite radio’s Laugh USA! and is also available on iTunes and Amazon.com. For more info on Garland or to book him as a speaker or comedian, check out his site: GarlandOwensby.com.