On Wednesday’s (2/26) Wheel of Fortune episode, venerated host Pat Sajak made an unacceptable blunder — especially in the age of Twitter! As he was celebrating a contestant’s $10,000+ winnings, he lifted his palms over his head and exclaimed, “Lift the ceiling!” This wouldn’t be so bad…if it weren’t for the fact that the idiom is “Raise the roof!” Needless to say, Sajak was the victim of several posts and memes poking fun at his mistake.
Have you ever said something incorrectly? I mean, trying to say the right thing and it just comes out all wrong? I know I have — countless times! Wanting to express appreciation for someone’s effort, my comment comes out as “Well, at least you tried.” Or, trying to let a friend know I’ve seen them weather a challenge well, I say, “Looks like your troubles are over!” Neither of those seems all that bad; but what if the individual’s effort fell short but it was all they could do? What if the struggle I knew about was merely on the surface and my friend had much more to deal with? In those cases, my well-intentioned comments appear shallow and possibly even hurtful.
So, what do we do? Is the answer just silence? Do we, in an effort to not hurt someone or make matters worse, just not say anything?!
Our brother, the apostle Paul, writes in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (CSB). Also, in Ephesians 4:29, he says we should speak, “only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” What does that tell you? It means we must try to build each other up! Will we always get it right? No. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. It means there are two issues to address here.
First, we need to be people who think about what we’re going to say to our hurting, struggling brother or sister. That seems obvious but many problems would be avoided with just a split-second thought of, “Is this what I should say in this instance?”
Secondly, and maybe most importantly, we also need to be people who extend grace. If someone says something that hurts our feelings as they’re trying to help or encourage, we need to realize — usually people aren’t trying to hurt us. When we get “in the moment” it’s easy to get flustered and simply say the wrong thing — even with the kindest intent. This might be a good place to also include Paul’s words in Philippians 2:3: “…in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” Sometimes, as the recipient of well-intentioned, yet ill-framed comments, we need to be the one who supplies the salt, so to speak. Allow for those “lift the ceiling” moments.