John was in a hurry, as he often is these days. Part of the job and life in general.
He rushed home from his last appointment, jumped into the shower because there hadn’t been time earlier, and dressed quickly. We were having dinner with two very special friends.
He calls me the most unobservant person in the world. I had a lot of things on my mind, so as we drove and talked, I wasn’t really looking at him.
Until we got to the restaurant.
We sat with our friends, preparing to order, and I glanced over at John, curious as to what he would get.
And I noticed his shirt was inside out.
I began to say something, then stopped. He seemed fine in his own lack of awareness, and neither of our friends had commented. What could he have done? Excused himself to turn it right-side out in the restroom? Too much fuss.
So I said nothing.
Throughout dinner, I’d glance at him, just to make sure I saw what I thought I was seeing.
He was so inside out.
As we said our goodbyes, I mentioned it to the wife; she’d noticed, but she compassionately said nothing.
When we got to the car, I mentioned to John my little discovery, and he was at first dumbfounded, and then laughed, asking me why I hadn’t said anything.
“I didn’t want to embarrass you.”
He called to his friend to ask if he’d seen anything out of the ordinary, pointing out the tag hanging out the back and the seams facing out.
Mike hadn’t noticed anything.
With our inside-out lives today, there will be those who notice something is off and others who won’t see any difference. There are those who will express their opinions on any and every social media platform, saying things there that they’d never share with someone face-to-face, passing judgment on ideas they don’t fully understand or thoroughly agree with.
The value seems to be in expressing an opinion.
If we’re going to choose to live inside out, why don’t we do it honestly? Exposing the mess within ourselves instead of expressing a viewpoint that might be harmful to others. Taking care of the disarray in our own wheelhouse before commenting on how others are running their lives.
It’s a matter of responsibility and respect, two values sadly lacking in our culture today.
Speaking words of encouragement and affirmation not only builds the person we speak to, but it brings light to our own souls because we’re reflecting on the hope we see in another.
The Apostle Paul stated:
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:28
Imagine the profound impact we’d have if what we said was consistently uplifting and hopeful, not negative and judgmental. If people didn’t have to guard themselves against bullying tactics and harsh remarks. If we were motivated by kindness instead of opinion.
The power to do that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus. He alone can provide the strength to consider others as more important than ourselves.
Even if others expose their wrong side.