Posted tagged ‘embarrassing moments’

Five Words

November 19, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      November 19, 2019

                                             

You are never too old to learn! 

We’ve heard those words a boatload of times. Recently, I learned the truth of them in a humbling way. My learned lesson was, in the future, to consider the ramifications of my words before sending them into social media cyber-space.

A friend of mine had told of an accomplishment in his life that few people ever even come close to achieving. When he posted it on social media I made a five word comment that was a bad grasp at humor. Instead, he read it as a negative comment, an insult. 

Five words. 

We have since made amends and I’ve apologized for my insensitivity.

I’m at the age where I don’t screw up that much any more, but, this time, five words cast the shadow of embarrassment over me.

It was a lesson well learned. There’s a lot of talk these days about being careful what you post on social media. The talk, however, is usually being given to middle and high schoolers by adults who look like they would never be that stupid.

And then this 65 year old dinosaur writes five words that, if said in person, may have been viewed as sarcastic humor, but on social media, where there is no hint of voice tone and non-verbals, it felt like a punch.

One of the things I have worked on in recent years has been to think through my blogging thoughts, edit and check for spelling mistakes, and not send out “Words From WW” until I’m satisfied with the flow and conveying of the subject matter. 

Sometimes, however, it isn’t the long read that messes our message up; it’s the few words, the slighting in a comment.

It’s interesting that I can comb back over my life and think of a few other screw-ups or, better said, errors in judgment. 35 years ago I sent a birthday card to someone from my congregation who I had not seen in Sunday worship for a few weeks. My birthday greeting included a perceived jab at her lack of presence on Sundays. I still remember the confrontation in my office that next Sunday with her grandfather. I turned eighty shades of red. In a matter of minutes I had gone from preaching the Sunday sermon to being preached to, and there was more fire and brimstone in the grandfather’s words than my sermon.

Going further back, I can recall the church history professor back in my seminary days (1976-1979) confronting me about the material in a paper I had written. He could have been a lot harder on me, because sections of the paper were simply copied from a book…okay, I’ll say the dreaded word! It was plagiarism! I rewrote the paper and learned a valuable lesson.

More recently…well, about ten years ago!…I said a few words to Carol that were insensitive and hurtful. Our two daughters were with us when it happened, and they had never seen us say angry words towards one another. They were almost as shocked as much as I was embarrassed. It was out of character.

I take some solace in that last statement. That screwups are out of character. I am not a potential “Dr. Phil” episode. What I am is someone who has experienced the grace of God on innumerable moments of my life.

That last statement includes five other words— better words, mind you— that are the beginning of a powerful truth: I am saved by grace…

Just Call Me ‘Mr. Zippy’!

August 25, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           August 25, 2018

                                  

I was standing in front of the classroom of thirty-five 7th Grade students. It was the second class period of my day, having already traversed through the treacherous path of Period 1!

I partially sat down on the table in front of the classroom to begin taking attendance. I looked down at my long attendance sheet of names and noticed something else.

I was unzipped! Not just a little bit, or with partial coverage, but as wide open as a Montana range! 

When the revelation of such a moment becomes known to a person several questions immediately follow: How long have I been this way? Who noticed? Who noticed, didn’t say anything to me, but is now saturating the school with the news? What do I do now?

The “what do I do now” question was easy to answer. I casually covered the front with the attendance sheet and tried to look like I was searching for someone as I made my way to the back of the classroom. Thankfully my classroom that day was located in one of the “portables” outside the school building. There are restrooms in the middle between the two classrooms. I headed for one of them and executed a quick zip!

I don’t know if anyone in that class had seen my underlying underwear, but I still turned a shade of sunburn red for a few moments. 

It’s funny! I can recall three times in my lifetime when I was inconveniently unzipped. Well, anytime would be inconvenient, but three times it has occurred at the most inconvenient moments possible!

Friday was the third!

The first time it happened was a number of years ago when I was pastoring the First Baptist Church in Mason, Michigan. We hosted the annual meeting of the American Baptist Churches in our area. Representatives from about forty congregations gathered in our sanctuary. I walked to the front of the sanctuary to welcome all of the guests and to say the opening prayer. I stood on the front platform- with no pulpit to shield me, mind you- and gave words of greeting to those in the crowded sanctuary. When I finished I walked down the center aisle to the back. 

And when I reached the foyer I noticed that I had, evidently, been flashing the congregation the whole time! In front of our Executive Minister, my Area Minister, others who had smiles on their faces, and a few stone-faced folk who had starched their shirt collars too much!

That event happened almost thirty years ago and I can still replay it in the nightmares of my slumber. Most of the time I’m now able to chuckle as I think about it.

The other time when, so to speak, I “opened up” to people happened in the Colorado Springs airport. I had gone to pick up my friend, Artie Powers. It was back in the days when someone picking up a passenger could still meet him at the gate. I walked down the terminal to where Artie’s plane would arrive. I noticed several women smiling at me as I strolled at a leisurely pace down the corridor. 

“I must be looking pretty good today!” I thought to myself. I met Artie and as we walked back through the terminal together he said to me in his distinctive West Virginian accent, “All the cows are out to pasture!”

“Huh?”

“You’re unzipped!”

It was at that moment that I realized that the smiling women weren’t entranced by my good looks. They were humored by my cluelessness!

They say things come in threes. Well, I’m hoping that’s true! I’m considering the idea of simply wearing sweat pants with a draw string in front and no zipper…but then I’d probably have a rip in the back that would just end up revealing my Hanes from the rear! 

Did Anybody See That?

January 23, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         January 23, 2018

                                     

Life is filled with those moments!

On Saturday morning I was leading a skills session for the Buddy Basketball program at my old church. The first session was for kindergarten through second graders. As I was monitoring the shooting grunts and groans before we began, one girl kept shouting at me, “Watch this! Watch this!” I watched a couple of her shots sail towards a different zip code than where the basket was located and then began looking around the gym at other small people, including my six year old granddaughter.

A minute or so later the same little girl who had been shouting at me to watch shouted, “Did you see that? Did you see that?” She had made a basket and wanted someone to recognize the impossible made possible.

The night before my wife and I had been watching the Michigan State men’s basketball team take out their frustrations on Indiana. In the midst of the game Miles Bridges had an incredible dunk over a defender, and I exclaimed to her “Did you see that?” We wore out the batteries in our remote control replaying the play so many times. It was a moment in time, for Spartan fans at least, that you want to share with others.

Yesterday morning I was substitute teaching at The Classical Academy. We had a two hour delay because of the snow and icy roads. I arrived ahead of schedule in order to make sure I understood the plan for the day. There weren’t many cars in the parking lot when I started strolling across and then…whoops! My feet launched towards the sky and my backside met the icy pavement and snow. My coffee (Kona from Buddha’s Cup in Hawaii, no less!) splattered onto the snow, creating a creamy dotted pattern. I felt my salad lunch jump around in its container, and my right hip was reminded that it’s no longer young.

And then I got to my feet and looked around asking myself, “Did anybody see that?” One of the other basketball coaches I work with did. He smiled at me, and I swore him to secrecy. “Don’t tell the freshmen basketball players!” He smiled at me again.

Sometimes we ask the question “Did anybody see that?” in hopes that our viewing audience is at least one, and wishing for more. At other times, however, we ask the same question and hope that no one but God viewed the embarrassment of the event.

Murphy’s Law says “No one will see the hole-in-one you hit because your partner is searching for his ball in the weeds!” Murphy’s Law also says “A crowd will notice when you want no one to see!”

Deep sigh!