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How Words and Actions Tell Different Stories

When I was in college, I traveled one summer throughout Europe with a Christian music group. On our first night in Sweden, my roommate was a guy named Colin. After our concert in Stockholm was over, Colin and I were introduced to our host parents, a gracious couple in their early 60s who didn't speak a word of English.

As we rode a tram for what seemed like ten miles, Colin decided to have a little fun with the language barrier. While nodding politely in their direction with a smile, he said aloud, "These nice people are probably serial killers." They nodded back, smiling. "They are probably taking us to a deserted warehouse just outside of town." They smiled and nodded again. Colin and I smiled and nodded in return.

After we arrived at their apartment, our host mom served us tea, crackers, and some really stinky white cheese. Colin took a bite, smiled, nodded, and said, "This is the worst cheese I have ever eaten." Nonetheless, he rubbed his stomach as though he was truly enjoying a wonderful Swedish treat. The host mom nodded and smiled, pointing to the cheese. Colin nodded and said, "If I have to eat another bite, I'm sure I'll be sick." But once again he patted his stomach, smiling contentedly. A look of understanding crossed her face as she watched Colin. And with that, she cut an extra large slice of the cheese, placing it lovingly on the plate next to Colin's crackers. To this day, that moment, as funny as it was, still serves as a sober reminder that words and actions can often tell different stories—and often cause a mess in the process.

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