By this he meant that whenever he messed up and inadvertently did something wrong, he would just make the best of it. For example, a slip of the brush resulting in a slash across a previous painted scene would invariably be transformed into a tree trunk and incorporated into his finished painting as such. In short, he was a master at using his own gaffes to his advantage.
Have you ever had a happy accident? I did this very morning. It happened during breakfast. I was busy eating and trying to talk to my wife at the same time. That was my first mistake. In retrospect, my parents cautioned me about any such decades ago.
Anyway, as if attempting to do these two things together wasn’t enough, I managed to undertake and accomplish a third. Only, I did this last one far more successfully than the other two. I bit my tongue!
I’m sure you have had this experience. When it happens, you quickly stop eating. And you stop talking as well. You then recoil in pain, as you spend the next moment or two holding your mouth and wondering how that could have just happened. All of this is then followed up with a brief period of chastising yourself for having been so careless, and finally vowing not to ever let that happen again.
And yet, as the day has progressed and the pain of the experience has subsided, I have come to see the whole experience as a happy accident. Sure, it was a painful mistake that I hope not to repeat. But if I could find a way to learn from it, and profit by it, then it was a worthwhile experience.
And how have I benefitted from this experience? By being reminded that biting one’s tongue, as painful as it can be, is sometimes still a good thing. In truth, there have actually been many times in my life when I have bitten my tongue on purpose; and the benefit from the experience has far outweighed the pain of having undergone it.
Of course, I am talking here about those times in my life when I have chosen to bite my tongue in order to hold it back and not say something that would have caused me and/or someone else pain or sorrow.
The Bible teaches us the importance of holding one’s tongue. The New Testament Book of James (chapter 3, verses 4-10) addresses this:
"A small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
7People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!"
The Apostle James reminds that an unrestrained tongue, free to say whatever and how much it desires, that proves so devastating. Like a small spark that sets a whole forest on fire, so the untamed tongue all too often produces great devastation.
After accidentally biting my tongue this morning, I stopped talking and got busy eating – which was, ironically, what I should have been doing all along. Only after I was done eating did I resume talking. Both I and my wife were better off for it. And for this reason, I’m actually happy that I bit my tongue.
In a similar way, a fresh commitment to biting my tongue, even if difficult, whenever I am tempted to speak at some inappropriate time or in some inappropriate way will very likely prove beneficial for me and others with whom I interact. Might the same be said for you?
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