Are you someone who wants things to match? You like your shoes and purse to match the outfit you are wearing. You like the colors and decor of your house to match and compliment the atmosphere you want to create. You have always been the one who loved coloring books and they showed the same tendency. You feel out of sync when things aren’t matching.
No, not everyone is quite as particular about matching as others of us. We don’t think much about whether our shoes are blue, and our outfit is black or whether all the plates on the dinner table match when we have guests coming. Some of us don’t notice those things, those details. And then there are some of us that land somewhere between those two opposites.
One of the things I recall about the young lady who later became our daughter-in-law was that she seemed to have socks that matched the same color as any and every outfit (even colors others would find hard to match). I loved that about her and never could quite figure out how she accomplished it after trying it from time to time myself.
Years later I had a friend whose daughter was a fashion consultant and when she looked at my closet and how I put outfits together, she admonished me not to always try to be “matchy-matchy.”
Some of us recall days of dressing alike for school events or occasions and popularity of matching mother and daughter dresses as well. Then there are those challenges of looking for dresses that look great on everyone and still match for the bridesmaids of a wedding party. Now that often makes for a difficult task. How many ladies’ heights and today’s styles look great in the same dress anyway?
But there is one place that matching is far more critical to consider. Do our words and actions match?
We use words all the time for all different means of communication. Some are well considered, and others just casually tossed out, but in both cases the hearer or reader will learn much about us if what we say and what we do don’t match up. Sometimes the dissonance can happen because we weren’t thinking when we spoke (or weren’t listening). Far more often than we might wish, words come out in a flash, and we can’t take them back. Commitments we make are left unfulfilled because it takes more courage to not accept what we were asked if we have no excuse we believe would be accepted.
Most of us have had something like that happen and we didn’t mean to be dishonest when it did, but if we tend to have words and actions that do not match our character tends to come into question. Whether we like it or not, our actions speak more of what is truly in our heart and mind than our words often do. The old adage some people said, “Do what I say, don’t do what I do,” is not good advice. This is especially true in our closest relationships – husbands and wives, parents, and children.
With so much of our communication taking place on electronic devices in sound bites rather than complete sentences with body language and tone inflection for extra clarity, miscues can happen more easily than ever before. We can also forget that the volume of the words spoken does not add to our understanding of the intent of the words. Emojis get added to things with no awareness of whether the person knows the meaning of the emojis or the abbreviated word. Little wonder that we get farther and farther away from clear consistent communication. When handwritten letters were the currency of communication, we may have put far more thought into them because they may have been written with pen and ink and no delete or erase function as an option.
Why does it matter so much if the two (words and actions) don’t match? The answer is very straightforward. Our actions reflect more accurately our intent and what is in our heart than the words we say (no matter how eloquently spoken). Relationships are broken because of words and actions not matching.
“Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.”Benjamin Franklin
Scripture admonishes us about making promises:
“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”Matthew 5:37 (MSG)
The lesson in all this is likely that it is wisdom to slow down the pace of our words, and reduce the amount of them, to assure that the actions that follow them are matching.