Four Things You Can’t Recover, Rediscovered
By Ed Delph
October 11, 2021
I recently rediscovered a quote that resonated strongly with my followers on Facebook. It’s a quote by Deanna Wadsworth. “There are four things you can’t recover: 1. The stone after the throw. 2. The word after it’s said. 3. The occasion after it’s missed. 4. The time after it’s gone.”
These four concepts are all saying the same thing about different issues. Look before you leap. Think before you emote. Act before you react. Plan before you build. Watch your thoughts because your thoughts become words, and words become actions. As far as the concept timing, I suggest you don't just watch time; watch your timing. What we do and say in life has consequences, some good, some not so good, and some horribly bad.
We relate to this quote because we’ve been there, right? How many times have we tried to chase and catch the words that came out of our mouths? We spoke in haste, and then in our mind, we thought something like, “Oh no, I can’t believe I said something that stupid or that hurtful. When we tried, in our minds, to chase down and catch what we said in anger or haste, it was like running in slow motion, but we could never catch those words. Finally, we get right up to the point where we can grab our words before they reach the person, and then we trip.” My out-of-body experience now was caused by my 'out of mind' experience earlier. Sound familiar?
Email and Facebook are even worse. Why? Our words are written “on paper” - or on the screen. There's visible evidence of what we said. The more you try and delete on your side, the more the other party will share it.
Then there are consequences to consider after our actions. How often have I counseled someone wishing they could have one night back in their lives where they made an enormous mistake based on immediate gratification or the heat of the moment? How many friends do we know who wish they could have one business decision back, one relationship ended, or one life choice made or not made? How many people do we know who missed an opportunity or an occasion that was right in front of them and they couldn’t see it? Mark Twain notes he had never seen an opportunity until it had ceased to be one. Why do we like that quote? We’ve ‘been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.’
I like the country-western song telling a story about a guy who got into all kinds of trouble on a date because of his thinking. It's appropriately called, “What was I thinking?” "I think you're not thinking with your thinker. I think you're thinking with your winker, you stinker." I used to teach this when I was a Singles Pastor.
The problem with being impulsive is that it's sudden. Likewise, the problem with being late is that it's late. To know what to say or do, how to say or do it, and when to say or do it requires uncommon sense because common sense is not too common these days. William Ward says, "Thoughts should be tested before they are transmitted. If our thoughts taste unkind, sharp, or unfair, we should refuse to release them into the dangerous world of words."
You might be asking yourselves, “It’s too late to take back our words or actions; what do I do now?" Here are a few suggestions to minimize the ‘roadkill’ and do some damage control. If applied, this advice will significantly reduce your and their emotional clutter. Emotional clutter comes from decisions made or missed in the ‘would have, should have, could of our lives.
First, forgive yourself. Then go and ask forgiveness of the offended party. When and where possible, make restitution. Try and make it right objectively and tangibly. That's not so much for them but you. Secondly, when initially tempted to attack, justify, or hide, don’t. Blame-shifting is just shame-shifting in disguise. Thirdly, learn from the experience. It is much easier to not get into a trap than to try and get out of a trap once you are in it. Self-control is just controlling yourself.
Jesus informed us to pray for uncommon sense every day in the Lord's Prayer. "Lead me not into temptation…" Do you know what that means? "Lord, help me to make good decisions today and help me not do something stupid because, if given a chance, I will say or do something stupid.”
I hope this brief article empowers you to be more aware of the four things you can’t recover in this life. Sometimes we need to be reminded. Look before you leap and leap when it’s wrong to look.
Remember, when you speak off the top of your head in emotionally charged situations, expect dandruff.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com