Photography by Matt Wyatt

On saying things I don’t mean

I’ve always struggled with remembering to grab everything I need before I leave the house. One of the more frequently forgotten items on my list is my wallet. This has put me in some peculiar situations. One example involves going on first date and trying to figure out how to explain to the girl that she was going to have to pay. I assured her that I would get the next one; there wasn’t a next one.

Aside from first dates, wallets are also very important when you plan to go on a plane. Confirming your identity is the first step in the TSA’s obstacle course. So, when I got to the airport and felt nothing in my back pocket, my heart sank. With only two hours left until departure there was no time left to try and do a quick turnaround.

Panic, a kind I haven’t felt in years, settled in.

When I was a teenager, I used to have these terrible anxiety attacks. Some of them had their roots in social anxiety while others seemed to hit me out of nowhere. For the most part, in the last ten years or so I have learned to manage these panic attacks that once left me cowering in the corner. I am now generally a pretty easy going person.

Until you put me on a plane.

The previous night had been wrought with trouble sleeping, butterflies in my stomach and anxious thoughts about being high in the sky. These worries now gave way to the even bigger fear that I had completely ruined my chances at going on the trip at all. As I made my way into the airport terminal, with a blood pressure through the roof, I said a few things I didn’t mean.

First, I said things to myself about myself- “You’re a this.” “You’re a that.”

Second, I said things to others, blaming them for my situation-“Why didn’t you remind me?”

Third, I said sarcastic things that were a poor testament to my faith- “I need a drink.”

No matter how much I grow in my relationship with Christ, there is always some kind of breaking point where my humanity steps in and only fragments of my faith are apparent on the outside. Emotional thinking takes the place of listening to the Spirit.

Even the greatest of Christians could testify to ‘the breaking point.’ Peter, for example, watched as his resolve fizzled out before the threat of persecution (Matthew 22).

I was far from persecution and I am certain I have much further to go when it comes to spiritual maturity, but the beauty of His love is that He takes whatever little we give Him and multiplies it. It’s a theme Jesus used throughout His ministry.

He took a small snack and fed thousands (Matthew 14), He took two mites (small coins) and saw the possibilities (Mark 12).

You see, sometimes I say things I don’t mean and sometimes I don’t know what to say at all.

I was with a friend some time ago who was asking me tough questions about Christianity. As I trudged my way through puzzling philosophical inquires I felt like I was making things worse. On the way home in the midst of explaining to God what I was trying to say I paused and said two of the most powerful (and probably dangerous) words I could think of:

“I’m willing”.

It was my own “Lord I do believe, help my unbelief” moment (Mark 9:24)

It is so important to recognize our breaking points and our room for growth. It’s even more important to recognize our utter dependence on Him and to be willing to let Him use us flaws and all. When we do this we get to watch the work He can do with the so very little we have to offer.

After some convincing, I was eventually let on the plane. I would like to say I will never forget to bring my wallet with me to the airport again, (I’m pretty sure I’ve learned my lesson after experiencing a full-service TSA pat down). More importantly, I believe that no matter what mistakes I make, things I forget, words I come up with that I don’t mean or words I can’t think to say at all; “He is who started a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6)


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