…can re-define victory for you.
If we do well with a specific tactic, that tactic may become our entire battle plan. We refine our skill using that tactic. We become less interested in and less effective at the other valuable tactics in our arsenal. If you want to become a boxer, a prize fighter, and you discover that the jab or the knockout punch is your best tool, you will soon learn that you cannot win every fight only jabbing, or waiting for the knockout shot.
On the positive side, many intended fighters have become medal winning weightlifters, bodybuilders, and coaches because they are good at it. Many running backs have become great quarterbacks through effective throwing on trick plays.
I have been sitting in my office working on the Worship Bulletin and sermon for Sunday for a couple of hours. I come out to get some coffee and I overhear the television. The View is on and the hosts are discussing a young lady who shared, on the show, that she had done some pornographic sex scenes to help pay for law school. I don’t know if the young lady was a guest on the show, or if the hosts showed a clip of the lady discussing her decision. But doing pornography was one of her tactics.
Although this is not why I brought it up, let me make my stance very clear. I am diametrically opposed to pornography. I do not believe God is in any way pleased with the pornographic industry. Far, far more evils come out of pornography than good – even if it is said that a husband and wife may enjoy looking at it together. There too many implications of sin and moral failure in: 1. Who is the couple making the movie, and are they married? 2. Is it OK for someone to watch them? 3. Is it OK for a husband or a wife to get pleasure from looking at someone other than their spouse? There are so many other murky issues to wade through, but that is not my point, today. I am encouraging you to have the conversation with your children, youth, and young adults, though. We live in a world where every person with a smartphone could have an x-rated theater – and video camera – in their pocket.
Back to my point. Earning what she would for each scene, it was determined that she would need to do close to 250 scenes to make enough money. One of the hosts said that the young lady now has a line of lingerie and “other things.”
I am going to make an educated guess that this young lady will soon, if she has not already, re-define victory to be a porn star, rather than a lawyer.
Be careful of how you determine what is an effective tactic.
This is a natural progression from the last two columns because my emphasis tends to lean more towards adjusting behavior to make the strongest changes in our lives. Remember my mantra. “You can’t think yourself into acting right, but you can act your way into thinking right.”
As we think about overstating, overcompensating is in the same family.
There are some very legitimate reasons people overcompensate. I am thinking of “over-correcting” when your car begins to slide out of control on ice, or if an oncoming driver crosses into your lane. You may react in a panic and overcompensate to avoid the danger. Often this over-correcting or overcompensating introduces new and different dangers.
If your home has been broken into, those who have not had the same experience may think you are overcompensating when you get an alarm, video surveillance, electric fencing, street lights all around your property, mace, a gun, and hire your own security company to patrol your driveway and yard. I’m being facetious, but you get the point. Some of our overcompensating is legitimate.
A few more examples are with someone who has been in an abusive relationship of any kind. They may opt to never get into another relationship or friendship. They may choose to never get married. Look at all of the benefits of life they miss out on. Someone who has been misled or hurt by their church may opt out of ever connecting with a church body again. Someone who lost a loved one too soon, or at the hands or wheel of another person may become angry with God and cut off that relationship. This overcompensating to insulate from hurt again may seem legitimate, but will ultimately be more harmful in the long run.
Fear of being unprepared or not measuring up may cause some to become lifetime students, never venturing out into the career world.
If you find yourself overcompensating in a way that is unhealthy, stop, think about the situation rationally, weigh the pros and cons, and find a balanced approach.
Two of the earliest recorded incidents of overstating, or exaggeration, and misstating can be found in Genesis 3:3 and 3:4. Adam likely overstated, Eve repeated it, and the serpent misstated.
I have come to believe Eve quoted exactly what was told to her by Adam. I also believe Adam added a little bit to what God told him in order to make an impression on Eve of how important it was not to eat that fruit. We do the same thing. We exaggerate because we want to impart how important something is to us, and we want it to be just as important to whomever we are sharing this with. We want them to feel what we feel and think what we think.
A quick recap: God told Adam that he and Eve could not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Somehow between Adam telling Eve and Eve recounting the command to the serpent, the phrase, “neither shall you touch it,” got added. I sort of think Adam added the extra line to emphasize what God had said. I also believe that when the extra was added, it became untrue – it was not what God had said, and the untruth lost the power of the truth. (That is a theological discussion, but I wanted to throw it in there.) The overstatement or exaggeration, “Neither shall you touch it.”
Then in 3:4 we have the serpent twisting the meaning of God’s statement. The serpent said, “You shall not surely (immediately) die.” God had said, “You will surely (ultimately, eventually) die.” The serpent told the truth, but it was deceptive truth in that he wasn’t talking about what God was talking about.
There is probably not one person alive who could claim to have never exaggerated or misstated something. Even in our most mature adult lives. We all have used deceptive truth. I lived in St. Louis and worked in Illinois, about 15 minutes from my house. When I was asked to come in on overtime, sometimes I would say, “I will be out of town.” I lived out of town from my job, so I was not telling a lie, but I was being deceptive.
The intent of overstating, exaggeration, misstating, and deceptive truth is to avoid telling a direct lie. The judicial system understood, long ago, people’s ability to unconsciously stretch the truth or leave something out. In life we ought to strive for the Court’s expectation – “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”
In this era of hyperbole and exaggeration in news broadcasts and political coverage, I have long thought about how we overstate some things. Then there is the conscious misstating we must contend with. All of these seem to be for the purpose of vying for our attention or to keep us feeling the way we feel.
Notice I didn’t say, “thinking the way we think.” Most people make choices and find our social, theological, and political standings in the way we feel, as opposed to giving serious thought and weighing facts. This may be because facts are hard to come by with all of the overstating and misstating going on.
I notice this so much but I couldn’t think of an immediate example. So, I went and turned on the 2nd most popular 24 hour cable news show. In less than one minute, I have an example.
The story: Some prison inmates in some state want to get married. The law apparently doesn’t address this issue directly, so the warden is saying no until a court decision. The news reporter has pundits on to argue about whether is is legal to deny these inmates “a wedding.”
The hyperbolic misstating? The discussion is about marriages, not weddings. The play on words is either intentional, or the news editors are derelict in their responsibility to frame discussions accurately.
To remind us how early we begin using these tactics to stress a point, win favor, or garner attention, I want to throw out just one phrase which we all will recognize. Then next week, we will delve more deeply into the subconscious thought processes behind our overstating.
Infinity times infinity… Infinity basically means endless. Just one infinity is enough.
Be careful of overstating.