by Joanie Butman
A friend’s daughter was married last month, and the reverend officiating offered some simple but sage advice to the young couple. The wisdom of her words extends far beyond marriage as it is excellent counsel for life in general. The first two were:
When you’ve done something stupid, admit it.
STOP doing stupid.
The S-word became taboo when my children were in elementary school. Deemed politically incorrect, its usage was strictly forbidden. Hannah and Doug called me out on it whenever I slipped. I tried to explain to them that there is an appropriate application of the word. Peoplearen’t stupid, but their choice of words and/or actions can be. People make stupid decisions or say stupid things all the time. I threw myself under the bus to offer examples, citing some of my less-than-stellar mom moments. That exercise drove the point home quite effectively.
Though I stand by my clarification of its proper usage, my explanation did not hold up for Doug when he repeated it as a defense when he was reprimanded for using the S-word at school. If the administration could have, they would have given me a detention as well for not abiding by their ban and undermining their authority.
Doing stupid is not necessarily the problem. The trouble comes from not owning it or being accountable for it. You see this scenario play out repeatedly every day in the headlines where stupidity reigns. Tabloids thrive on schadenfreude. People love to read about the mistakes of others. Those that admit their mistake and atone for it don’t stay in the headlines long. It’s the ones that deny or blame others for their own actions that linger until the next big story breaks.
Perhaps God should have included Don’t Do Stupid as one of His commandments. Those three words encompass a good portion of ‘thou shall nots.’ Humans are a simple lot though. I suppose He needed to be more specific.
The biggest hurdle in spirituality is our lack of humility in admitting our own stupidity when it comes to our choices – as if we could hide anything from God. Worse yet is when we try to blame others for our transgressions, like Adam in the Garden of Eden who absurdly tries to put his bad judgment back on God: “The woman YOU put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
I’ve been guilty of both tactics and can say from experience neither works. God already knows my frailties. He’s just waiting for met to recognize and acknowledge them. Only then can I fully grasp my desperate need for Him. Paul emphasizes this truth in his letter to the Corinthians:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Scripture doesn’t mention Paul’s issue. It doesn’t matter. We all have them. Those signature sins we keep repeating against our better judgment. Even Paul admits, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Sound familiar? Makes me feel better that even this icon of faith fell victim to his own humanity.
Anyone who has suffered from any kind of addiction, whether it be gossip, sex, Oreos or alcohol, knows that until you admit your inability to overcome it alone, you are doomed for failure. In God’s upside-down kingdom surrender is the only path to victory, and it needs to be practiced daily because if we could stop doing stupid, we would have done it already. I may not do the same stupid, but I discover new ways to do stupid every day.
As the saying goes, “you can’t cure stupid.” However, you can treat it by applying God’s Word to your choices, which was the Reverend’s last instruction:
3. Keep your relationship (life) Christ-centered.
When you choose to apply God’s wisdom and guidance to your decisions, there will always be less stupid and more love.