What did you expect?! Have you ever heard this from someone.... maybe a parent or spouse? Have you ever done something that didn't turn out quite like you expected, only to have someone ask you about it in a tone that screams, "You are such an idiot!"?
Case in point.... When I was in elementary school - maybe about 4th or 5th grade - I spied a small bird perched atop a fence about 50 feet from where I stood. Without much deep thinking, I picked up a dirt clod - maybe a bit smaller than a baseball - and heaved it with all my might toward the bird. It only took a few seconds for my worst fear to be realized. I had hit the bird dead on!! I was horrified! The bird simply fell to the other side of the fence and suddenly my life was over! Honestly, I could have thrown that chunk of dirt 500 times and never hit that bird. Actually, I never knew if I killed the bird or just dazed him - I didn't stay around long enough to find out. I suspect that I ran home, crying to my parents. I also suspect that they asked me the proverbial question: "What do you expect to happen if you throw dirt clods at little defenseless birds?" I'm sure they didn't call me an idiot, but I sure felt like one. I still remember the event to this day.
I suppose we all do things without much thought, only to be surprised at the outcome. Let's face it though, I was aiming at the bird. Is it so strange that I actually hit it? Fast forward to today. Maybe we're not throwing dirt, but we are using words that can do just as much damage. In fact someone once said, "The more dirt you sling, the more ground you lose." Every action generates a reaction. Every time we use words, they will generate some kind of reaction. I need to ensure that I am thinking before I speak.
But there are also times when you are not the clod-thrower, but instead, the bird on the fence. Others can say and/or do things that can impact you either positively or negatively. Maybe it was never their intention to hurt you, but sometimes the clod hits the mark. The impact of someone else's actions can often have long lasting effects on us. Forgiving and forgetting is the recommended solution, most will say.... but, let's face it, it's not that easy. I'll discuss this topic in a future post.... it deserves much deeper attention.
Forty-one years later, I've never hurt another bird! I'm sure I've done plenty of goofy things without thinking, but when it comes to birds, they are off limits! But I've never forgotten the learning point: Don't be surprised at the outcome if you do something without thinking. After all "What do you expect?"