My wife shocked me recently. She brought home a man to serve as an example of what a good husband should be like.
"Couldn't you just buy me a Gary Smalley book?" I asked. "It would be less humilating."
"Shhh," she replied. "He's talking to me."
"You're going shopping by yourself?" said Mr. Wonderful. "How about I tag along and carry your bags?"
When I heard him say that, I began to suspect that Mr. Wonderful was not human. Even Ghandi never volunteered to go shopping with the little woman. (Some say the whole idea of nonviolent resistance came to him while he was trying to avoid a trip to pick out new drapes.)
Mr. Wonderful, as it turns out, is a talking doll. Apparently, women buy him for the amusement of hearing a man say "Here, you take the remote. As long as I'm with you, I don't care what we watch." Or "Actually, I'm not sure which way to go? I'll turn in here and ask directions."
Perhaps you're wondering, Is there a Mrs. Wonderful?
The answer is no. Mrs. Wonderful is not necessary, because men already have a special circuit in their brain that takes whatever a woman says and changes it to what they're hoping to hear. Scientists call this circuit the Reality Bypass Valve.
What the woman says: "We need a new 4-wheel drive truck like we need a hole in the head. I thought we were going to pay off our credit cards."
What the man hears: "We need a new 4-wheel drive truck. Why don't you pay for it with our credit card?"
What the woman says: "Dear, would you clean out the garage?"
What the man hears: "Dear, why don't you get some snacks and enjoy the ball game?"
What the woman says: "No."
What the man hears: "Yes."
Mr. Wonderful comes in a box that advertises, "He always knows just what to say."
There are some people like that. You find them on the morning shows telling an amusing anecdote about filming in the South of France, or explaining why a vote for them is a vote for more jobs, better schools and whiter teeth for all Americans.
Sometimes I imagine that I'm being interviewed on TV--and then I imagine the years of humiliation that would follow after I said the exact wrong thing. Like the time I meant to ask a coworker if she had succeeded in having her car fixed, and instead asked if she had fixed her cat.
Opening my mouth is like letting a 2-year-old loose in a Mikasa store-there's a high risk of disaster. Sooner or later there will be misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or a restraining order. This is particularly distressing because I claim to be a Christian. and Christians are not supposed to be yelling into the phone, "Let me send you a dictionary because I think you've confused the meaning of 'customer service' with 'criminal neglect.' "
I've prayed for God to stop me from saying anything unkind. I?m not sure how that sort of prayer gets answered. Will I wake up one morning talking like Jimmy Carter? Or will God take the easy way and just wire my jaw shut?
Perhaps you're also one of those people who lets words slip out of your mouth that you regret. Obviously, I don't have any advice. But I have found this clue in the book of Matthew: Jesus said "Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."*
Apparently, if you want to speak like Mr. Wonderful, you need to have Him inside.
*Matthew 12:34 NIV