Better Part of Valor
By Jane Thornton –
Prom night, thirty years later, still resonates with emotions. Mostly self-mockery at this stage, but I remember the heightened feelings of anticipation and giddiness. Hours spent applying my first set of fake fingernails, a mad dash to the florist for the forgotten boutonniere. For years I planned to wear the floating dress of a southern belle, but, as an oh-so-adult senior, I switched to the sleek, sophisticated look of polyester.
That night, adorned in chic maroon (not pastel), I traipsed into the ladies’ room with a friend to freshen my makeup. Among the throng in front of the mirror, I spotted a dress with vaguely familiar lines.
I elbowed my friend. “Look at her dress. It’s an awful lot like mine except hers vees in the front and mine in the back.”
Eyeing the unaware target of our interest, my friend nodded. “It even has the little cape top.” (I told you this was thirty years ago).
A disdainful sniff scrunched my nose. “The vee in back is much more original.” But my eye was continually drawn to the similarities. “Lisa, I think it’s exactly the same, but she’s wearing it backward . . .”
Slowly an inkling of the mind-boggling reality seeped into my consciousness and horror dawned. “Oh no! I’m wearing my dress backward!”
My awkward words spilled into a sudden silence.
So many lessons can be drawn from that day and night. Vanity. Priorities. Friendship. The list continues. But the moral that resounds over the years is that I should have kept my big mouth shut.
As James 3:2 says, “For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (NLT). The price on prom night was just a few moments of excruciating embarrassment followed by a hands-on tutorial in learning to laugh at oneself. At other times in my life, the damage has been much worse.
I have lost count (and hope my children have also) of the number of bedtimes where I had to apologize for my harsh words during the day. I fear my example for handling stress has put the penalty for my loss of control onto my kids.
Although I know I’m forgiven, I still wince at certain memories. More than once my attempts at humor have resulted in a lack of discretion. My unruly tongue has victimized my husband, my friends, my siblings, and my children. Not malice, but a quick and thoughtless mouth, is the culprit.
Let’s not turn this into the tirade I deserve, but thank God for His incomprehensible grace in forgiving each stumble and listen to His guidance for the future:
“Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
A dream comes when there are many cares,
and many words mark the speech of a fool” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 NIV).