5 ENEMIES OF DISCRETION

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)

Today, I want to share with you an aha-moment I’ve had after a very embarrassing incident this morning. This incident involved a man seeing something about me which he wasn’t supposed to see, and which he wouldn’t have seen if I was more cautious!

After this incident, I was so mad at myself! It’s funny how you become so aware of what you want when you compare yourself to others as you see their prosperity or status, but when you look at yourself to lick the wounds of hurt, pain, or affliction brought upon you by the habits, words, or actions of someone whose opinion matters to you, or because you feel embarrassed or you’ve done something stupid out of anger, frustration, or impatience, you are so very aware of what you don’t want or need in your life!

Well, believe me, I was very aware and certain of one of the things I don’t want in my life! I hate being indiscrete! I can’t stand it if I do things indiscreetly!

Our friend, Google, defines discretion as “the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offence or revealing confidential information.” Most definitely, I revealed very confidential information about myself by what I failed to do!

But I like the Cambridge English Dictionary’s definition for discretion more, because it clearly spells out the consequences of indiscretion as it defines discretion as “the ability to behave without causing embarrassment or attracting too much attention especially by keeping information secret.” (See http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/discretion for this definition.)

I hate to embarrass myself, let alone being embarrassed! I want to have less embarrassing moments such as this morning’s incident. Or no, even better: I don’t want such embarrassing moments in my life at all! I don’t need them in my life, because they don’t represent what I strive to be. They don’t reflect my identity.

Although I am not ashamed of how I was made and I really don’t mind talking about things that make conservative people uncomfortable, such as sexual intimacy and sexual health, birth and breastfeeding stories, and so on, I don’t want to be indiscrete either. I firmly believe that there’s a time and a place for everything, and there are certain instances where it is inappropriate to talk about these things.

I also believe that the Biblical proverb quoted at the start of this discussion is a clear indication that discretion is one of the key characteristics of true beauty. That’s one of the reasons why it is my modest opinion that it’s simply not good enough for me just to take care of my outward appearance or to be concerned only about how presentable I look when appearing in public or before other people who don’t share the place where I live.

If I don’t want outsiders to view me as a woman without discretion, how then do I get into such embarrassing situations so regularly? Surely, the answer is not that I attract them to me! I don’t just “attract” these embarrassing moments to myself, so what do I do wrong that causes me to embarrass myself like this and to show an utter lack of discretion so many times?

Although I find this morning’s incident to be so utterly embarrassing that I wish I had access to an amnesia button or medicine that would cause both the man involved and myself to just delete it from our memory, and that it makes me not to want to wish that it would happen to my worst enemy, the positive outcome is that it made me realize something I never thought of before: a lack of discretion in itself isn’t the reason for indiscrete behavior!

Like so many other things in life, it’s just so easy and generally acceptable to judge people, especially women, for being indiscrete in their conduct toward others and when they appear in public. I have been guilty of accusing others of that myself, and until today, I never paid any thought whatsoever to the, possibility that people don’t necessarily want to lack discretion. I may not be the only woman who sometimes acts indiscreetly but who doesn’t want to be indiscrete. In other words, showing a lack of discretion is not necessarily purposeful.

Tell me, can a tree stand by itself without support? We all know the answer to this question, I hope! Now, just like a tree needs its roots to support it, a lack of discretion in both general and specific circumstances is rooted in something, and because that something isn’t being dealt with, the figurative tree of indiscretion remains alive and well, and most of all, it remains standing. Therefore, it needs to be killed, starting with the roots …

But it is not wise to buy property before first considering the costs to determine your level of affordability, neither is it wise to go to battle without first comparing your resources to that of your opponent’s, which is why it is so important to take the shovel to dig underneath the soil directly next to this Tree of Indiscretion to have the roots exposed so we can see exactly how many roots it has and how thick they are to help us determine the strength of the roots that keep it alive and help it to stand. Only then can we know exactly what to do to kill indiscretion and to help discretion thrive.

After digging, I was able to identify that carelessness is one of the major causes of indiscrete actions. I would know, because this morning’s incident proved that to me!

If I was more careful about where I put stuff while attending to other things but before I go to the bathroom to take a shower, that which was revealed to the guy wouldn’t have been revealed in the first place! If I put it somewhere where people who don’t usually enter my room won’t look, it would have been no problem if I forgot all about it when being distracted by other things that needed my attention. So having been distracted by other things wasn’t the problem. Carelessness was!

In order to avoid this sort of thing, and because I’m quite forgetful sometimes, I don’t think being less forgetful will necessarily solve this problem. I’d have to change the way I think about objects I don’t want to reveal to men who are not my husband! So I’ll think about these things in the same way I think about the parts of my body which I don’t want to reveal to others because doing so would make me feel self-conscious.

Another enemy of discretion is loudness. By that, I don’t mean that a woman shouldn’t stand up for what’s right when injustice is being done, right? I mean that, when any person, man or woman, speaks too loud, information that’s supposed to be or regarded as confidential may leak out, because sometimes you may think people didn’t hear what you said behind a closed door, only to find out that someone pressed his or her ear against the door to hear what you were talking about, or that someone else could still hear what was said despite the door having been closed. Fortunately, this was not what happened to me today!

The only advice I can give is to watch your volume if you have to talk about or share confidential information.

In many instances where I’ve acted indiscreetly, my slow thinking caused embarrassment, and in instances such as the one I had to face today, it attracted unnecessary attention which just increased the level of embarrassment! I didn’t know exactly what to do the instant I noticed that what I didn’t want to be revealed was sitting out in the open right there on my bed! Having realized that too much was revealed, I quickly picked it up, but it was already too late …

I don’t know what to do to think faster. I really don’t, so your input would most certainly be appreciated if you know how slow thinkers like me can overcome the devil of slow thinking!

Foolishness is another cause of indiscretion. The book of Proverbs tells us in more than one place that listening to rebuke and correction is proof of wisdom.

If listening to rebuke when it is given, lovingly shows wisdom, then the opposite is true: not listening to it proves foolishness. So, how you react when someone corrects or rebukes you in love reveals whether or not you are wise or foolish. It can even tell others whether you are a mocker, or wicked, or someone who seeks peace and wisdom and who has the desire to understand others and yourself.

I can already hear the objections to the idea that listening to rebuke proves wisdom, so at this point, it needs to be said that I’m not talking about the sort of rebuke that’s given harshly, such as when the person doing the rebuking does it solely with the object of being condescending in bringing her point across, or to criticize, or where the person has a tendency of pointing to the flaws and faults of others but without allowing others to point to hers. I believe that the sort of rebuke to which the book of Proverbs refers concerns instances where you are indeed doing something that’s not right, and then you’re being corrected with the aim of addressing the consequences of your wrong-doing in a way that helps you to be a better person or to do what you want to do, better. This way of rebuking brings me to the fifth and final enemy of discretion.

I think that most of us lack a competent mentor who cares for the well-being of those who look up to her. It is not enough that you have someone who only brings to your attention what you’re doing wrong. But finding someone who can identify with you or who will be able to put herself in your shoes without condemning you for the things you lack in her and in your own eyes is no easy task! Thus, if the person rebuking you also offers or strives to help you with practical tips as to how to expose and get rid of your indiscretion, consider making that person a mentor – someone from whom you can learn – someone to whom you can go to for wise and sober-minded advice that will guide you for the rest of your life and which you can communicate to your children and grandchildren.

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