Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Faith on the Frontstretch: Don’t get black-flagged for reckless words

Drivers have to be "on" all the time, like this tightrope walker
at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Oct. 2012
Photo Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs  

“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1b

Sometimes NASCAR drivers have trouble with words. As celebrities, their comments are often recorded, transcribed or captured on video. Once in a while, even the remarks they make behind-the-scenes end up on-the-record. No matter what the scenario, drivers are expected to represent the sport well by what they say and do.

Can you imagine how much pressure it is to be “on” every time you set foot outside your motor home? Even when they’re filled with strong emotions, drivers are expected to be on their best verbal behavior. And if they’re not careful, a loose tongue can get them in more trouble than a loose racecar.

It’s so easy to criticize a driver’s comments from afar. But imagine if all of us were under that degree of verbal scrutiny. Could we drive the high line or would we get black-flagged for reckless words?

Being misunderstood is a terrible feeling. So is saying something rash that you end up regretting. Whether we’re talking on the phone, through a computer screen or face-to-face, spoken communication can be a tricky thing.

At one time or another, most of us have said something we thought was pretty clear, but someone who heard it misconstrued our words to mean something else. We said “ABC,” and someone else heard it as “XYZ.” It really stinks when you mean one thing and it is misinterpreted another way.

Worse yet, sometimes we phrase something awkwardly or utter inappropriate words without thinking. Someone gets offended and tells someone else, and things spiral out of control.

Can we avoid reckless words that lead to misunderstandings and harm?

Some misunderstandings can be prevented by using discretion and choosing our words wisely. People want quick answers, but it’s okay to pause and pray before speaking. Like the right adjustments on a racecar, a prayer for wisdom can do wonders for maneuvering through a delicate conversation.

But there are times when misunderstandings occur despite our best preparation and careful choice of words. That’s because people filter what they hear through their own set of perceptions and life experiences, which may be unknown to us.

One thing is certain though: God never misunderstands us. Thankfully He knows each of us down to the depths of our beings. When the motives behind our words are good, He knows. When our intentions are selfish or vindictive, He knows that, too.

It would be great if there was a “rewind” button that sucked loose words back into our mouths, erasing their sounds and making people forget. But spoken words can’t be taken back. When in doubt, pause, pray for insight and choose your words wisely.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
~Proverbs 12:18

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Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans.

“Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke. See you on the Frontstretch!

5 comments :

I think that the comments referred to were not racially motivated. It's a shame that the phrase uttered is common place, was used in the conversation, and caused the driver to be suspended. But perhaps we all need to not be so PC in this day and age. Yes, it can be construed as derogatory, but it is so common in everyday vernacular, that it does not always carry the racial connotations that used to be attached to it. I wish people would realize that. To me, it actually has a positive connotation, as that someone was innovative in how they finally fixed a problem. But thank you for your perspective, Beth!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Lee. Love hearing your thoughts. :)

I can't imagine how hard it is to be "on" all the time, weighing every word. Any of us can be misunderstood and it never feels good. Guess that's one reason I like writing - there's time to edit and revise first. :)

"God never misunderstands" I love that! Sometimes the conversation people are "hearing" is our lives. They watch from a distance and think they know who we are, what we're doing and what we stand for.Then their criticizing begins and it becomes apparent that their comprehension of us is completely opposite of who we really are.That can be hurtful, but God always knows!

I love that His Word is a "discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart". It helps us see what our true intentions are and to get them aligned with His. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." The fuel we put into our heart powers the motor of our mouth. I want to make sure my heart is filled with good fuel!

"The fuel we put into our heart powers the motor of our mouth. I want to make sure my heart is filled with good fuel!" Well said!

Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment. :o)

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