Can We Reverse Our “Wing Flaps”?

Butterfly - photo by Nathan Dumlao ( by Nathan Dumlao

Thought for the Week

I find the butterfly effect intriguing: the idea that the mere flap of a butterfly’s wing in, say, Nebraska could start a chain reaction leading to a tsunami in Sr Lanka. The point being that, with each “wing flap,” i.e. word or deed, we initiate a chain of effects.

Sometimes for good: An old college student of mine, now a well-love pastor and community leader, looked me up. He astonished me by telling me that my class, along with the student dinners my wife and I hosted, had profoundly affected the course of his life.

Sometimes for bad: Another student (different class), his wife informed me, was deeply offended by something I said or did. But I have no idea what it was because he refused to ever speak with me again. Sometimes our wing flaps can’t be reversed.

But sometimes they can.

When I was a teenager, I accidentally swang a golf club back and broke my cousin Larry’s nose. Thirty-two years later, at (ironically) a Thanksgiving dinner, he stunned the family by announcing that he’d never forgiven me. Not for injuring him, but for so quickly excusing my actions (“I didn’t know you were there!”), instead of showing real concern. This, Larry said, was why he found it so hard to believe in God. If I was the product of that God, he wanted nothing to do with Him. The family came to my rescue: “Mitch didn’t mean it!” “It was thirty years ago!”

But God didn’t. He whispered, “Fix this.”

So I begged for Larry’s forgiveness. One long overdue reverse wing flap. I remember the way his eyes searched mine for telltale twitches of insincerity. And then the way they softened. Was it enough? I pray so. Less than a year later, he passed away, and after the funeral his wife told me something I’d said had led Larry to begin believe in God again.

Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (justice).” It concludes with the statement, “And all these things will be added unto you.” Significantly, the original Greek for “added” refers not to rewards, but the results of the actions we take. When that still, small voice whispers to us, “Fix this,” it’s time to…

Reverse our wing flaps.


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes, Religion/Faith and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

32 Responses to Can We Reverse Our “Wing Flaps”?

  1. Abe Austin says:

    Thank you for sharing that story. Of course in the moment you would have been afraid of what you had just done, anxious to make it known you had meant no harm. But that wouldn’t change the fact that Larry had felt harm anyway, it didn’t matter whether it was intentional or not. We are told Christ endured all of our pains so that he could empathize with us and lift our burden, It is divine when we follow that same example and allow ourselves to empathize with the pains of others as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. quiall says:

    I love this concept! It really does think about what we have done and what we have not done. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Love Alone says:

    Reblogged this on Love and Love Alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Life is rough. Nobody said it would be easy. Christ said there would be tribulation. But, with Him, we live the abundant life. Was not the first miracle at the WEDDING at Cana. I celebrate with you that change many years after the accident by God’s grace.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. An amazing, well thought out and important message to be heard, understood and practiced.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So compelling. (I also learned that “swang” IS a real word!)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Erika says:

    Oh, yes, those second chances to make it better or to resolve something. But for those second chances, we don’t get, we really need to develop more and deeper awareness that we are the best person we can be always. Still, some things we said and did were meant well but not taken that way. Another thing we need to learn: Acceptance of subjective perception…
    Very thought-provoking, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for sharing these illustrations. God knew I needed this exact message today. If I weren’t a believer, I would be freaked out thinking you somehow read my journal this morning as I poured out my heart. With God’s grace, I will do some reverse wing flaps.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. believe4147 says:

    That must have broken your heart. God’s grace and love didn’t let go of the offended all those years and He used you to bridge a gap you didn’t mean to cause. God is so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Nancy Ruegg says:

    May we never forego the opportunity to reverse our wing flaps when appropriate. Thank you, Mitch, for the memorable examples!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A great reminder that our actions have consequences, yet forgiveness is attainable. My husband was hit by a golf club as well long ago, but he partially blamed himself for standing so close. He has always been accident prone, so I wasn’t surprised! LOL!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Beautiful insight. May we reverse the wing flap that was hurtful or not Kingdom and release a tsunami of Kingdom wing flaps ♥️ 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  13. ellie894 says:

    So nicely shared, Mitch. Inspiring and hopeful. 🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  14. numrhood says:

    welcome back matt 6:33 & 6:08


  15. Awwww, I love this post. Great words!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Matilda Novak says:

    Made my eyes and heart fill….
    We can say or do something, and never even know it.
    God help us.
    Encouraging, how God helped You reverse.
    i hope to do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Wow! As you may have noticed, I’ve been thinking about God’s timing lately, and this was such a great example. I’m so glad you apologized, especially since a lot of people wouldn’t – it was so long ago, etc. But what a difference it made! Who would have thought that one way to bring someone to faith would be by apologizing? (We’re usually too busy trying to come off as perfect.)
    When I taught speech, we were between units and I told the kids I was going to have a special lesson the next day about a sort of superpower that can prevent lawsuits, mend friendships, heal marriages, even prevent wars! They came in the next day eager to see what the superpower was, and I explained that it was the ability to properly apologize. I had read a book about “the Five Languages of Apology,” which are somewhat like the Five Love Languages. – To have the desired effect, you need to know the person and what their “language” is, otherwise they’ll say you didn’t REALLY apologize.( I have written apology notes where I included each one, just to make sure … 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      “Who would have thought that one way to bring someone to faith would be by apologizing? (We’re usually too busy trying to come off as perfect.)” Amen, Annie!


  18. gregoryjoel says:

    A beautiful story Mitch. It always amazes me how simple words can have such a long half-life. I pray that we all grow in wisdom to know the power of words and even moreso, the power of amends.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Alan Searle says:

    So touching. Thanks for the reminder that God’s reconciling nature is in the small things as well as the great.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I really like this. I feel like this post takes us to take responsibility for our wing-flap actions

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Can We Reverse Our “Wing Flaps”? | Restored Ministries Blog

  22. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Thought-provoking. We just don’t know or can even anticipate the effect of our words or actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: When Life Gives You Compound Fractures | Mitch Teemley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s