Monday, February 8, 2010

When I was a kid we authorized do-overs when we played jacks. A do-over allowed a miss to be erased as if it never happened and a second chance was given. Before we started, a vote would decide if it was a three or two do-over day. Every once in a while, someone would say, “I dare you” for a no do-over day. Game on!

It was very important to strategically use a do-over. When a new friend would join our game we could tell how experienced of a jacks player she was by her do-overs usage action plan. We also allowed trading do-overs for turns so some days the negotiations on the front porch rivaled the floor of the stock exchange.

All of us are granted do-overs in everyday things. It’s like life practice. The more we do something the fewer times we are likely to need a do-over. The hard part is facing something we’ve messed up and then trying it again. Where it gets a little tricky is with our words.

My daughter-in-law, Alison, is a family counselor. In an interesting way she explains how powerful words are and how carefully we should use them. A client is given a new tube of toothpaste and told to squeeze it all out on to the table. Then Alison asks for it to be put back in to the tube. Clearly that can’t be done. “That’s the way it is with what we say. Once the words are out of our mouths, it’s impossible to put them back,” she then explains.

We can ask for forgiveness but too often the hurt has already been felt. Watching what we say, when we say it and how we say it should be something we are extremely conscious of. There aren’t really true do-overs with words because of the wounds that can be inflicted. Wounds heal, but often a scar is left behind.

I know I have said things and instantly wished I could inhale the words back in. If you’re honest, you have too. Since words can bless and encourage or sting and tear down, mentally filtering what we are about to say and how to say it is crucial.

I dare you ... it’s a no do-over day.

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