Open mouth, insert foot

Butterfly quilt in Batiks by Kristen Banks.

By Kristen Banks

I seem to be really talented at putting my foot in my mouth. Things have a way of just popping out of that big hole in my face, just like a jack in the box, and they usually surprise me just as much as the person I said them to.

They always sound a lot different when said out loud than what they sounded like all couped up in my head. I immediately wish I could take them back or re-word my statement in some way. I’m always praying that the listener understood my intent and overlooked my poor choice of words or delivery.

Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

I also have a knack of accidentally doing things to embarrass myself that I didn’t even mean to do. Like just recently when I accidentally posted something on Facebook that was offensive. I’m not even sure how it happened.

I was scrolling along and stopped to admire an adorable little video that one of my friends had posted of their incredibly talented child dancing. I was enjoying the performance when I fumbled my phone and heard a “bloop” noise. Panic washed over my face as I wondered “what did I just do?”

I immediately steadied my phone with both hands and looked to see what I had just liked, unliked, smiley faced, angry faced or who know’s what else? It was even worse than I could have ever imagined.

What happened was that I had accidentally posted a picture of a polar bear ambling around like an idiot with the caption “I don’t even know what I’m doing” to my friends post about her daughter, seemingly mocking the little girl’s talent.

I was horrified. I hadn’t typed a thing into the search box. I had never even seen that clip in my whole life. I have NO IDEA how I even posted it! What are the odds of even accidently posting something like that?! It was like some freak social catastrophe.

What I found out later was that apparently Facebook has this new “GIF” feature. If you click comment, then GIF, you can then search through pre-selected short clips that are trending now. If you touch one of the clips, it automatically posts it. I don’t even really understand how that all works, but if you want to try it just drop your phone from about chest high and grab at it as it falls down. This method will work for sure.

Since I’m pretty sure my phone is smarter than I am, and I was on it instead of my laptop, I couldn’t easily find a way to delete the post. I immediately tried to comment and explain what had happened, which just made matters worse as I frantically typed misspelled words, half sentences, and made little to no sense at all. I didn’t know what to do.

I had not talked to this friend in years and it looked like, to her and the rest of the world, that I was openly mocking her sweet, beautiful, talented child. I finally sat there quietly in my silent shame for a moment taking this all in. Then I calmly and quietly pulled out my laptop, logged in, and found a way to remove the post.

When you spend a lot of time interacting with people, like we do so often when we’re quilting, you occasionally say the wrong thing. I don’t know how many people had the misfortune of actually seeing my unfortunate post the other day, it’s Facebook so it could be like, the whole world. Probably not, but I’m assuming my friend did see it.

If she wanted to take my gaffe the wrong way, I can definitely see how she could do so. Or she could have taken my explanation at face value, and thought, “I know Kristen, and she would never intentionally make fun of my child, she either just didn’t realize how that looked or there must have been some mistake.”

I feel kind of helpless because no matter what I say or how I try to explain myself, I can’t control how she really thinks or feels about the situation. I can’t undo what’s already been done, no matter how much I wish I could, and it’s kind of hard for me to forget about it, too, no matter how much I try.

I might not be able to forget about it, but what I can do is control how I feel about it. When I remember this incident in the future I can, first of all, cut myself a little slack. After all, I didn’t mean to do it, and anyone who knows me well should know that fact. Anyone who’s a friend, should believe me when I say, “I’m telling the truth.”

Next, I can choose to use this situation for good. I can remember how it made me feel, and I can extend grace to someone else in the future who might be in the same boat as I find myself in now.

Sometimes it’s hard to let things go, and to choose to not be offended. People say and do things that are insensitive and can hit you the wrong way. That’s just life. Maybe they meant to do it, and maybe they didn’t.

Then again, sometimes people think they mean to say something, and then immediately regret it and wish they hadn’t a second after actually saying it. Because maybe they’re just having a bad day and didn’t really think it through.

Grace is giving someone something that they don’t deserve. You don’t have to overlook someone’s faux pas, or cut them a little slack when they say something insensitive. But you can choose to, because you care about them. You can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and not hold their mistake against them, and you can give them room to fix it or explain.

Through a little grace and understanding you can both grow together through an unfortunate incident, instead of one person being hurt and the other feeling ashamed. And at the end of the day if I’m going to have to look ridiculous in front of anyone, then I sure hope it’s in front of my friends. Because I have a lot of awesome friends, and I know they love me just the way I am, flaws and all.

Just thinking about that fact makes me feel good, and I sure never guessed doing something so stupid could make me feel so good.

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  1. Carrie Gannon says:

    Very well said…I know that you wouldn’t ever mean to offend anyone…you are a sweet young lady…think the world of you….life is good by letting us have wonderful friends……

  2. Kristen says:

    Thank you Carrie!