I have a confession to make. I like to exaggerate.

“No!” You may be saying to yourself. “Not you, Mark.”

Yeah, I do. I bet I’ve exaggerated over 40 million times during my life. 

Oops, I did it again.

A lot of my embellishment stems from enthusiasm. I am highly enthusiastic and have found that enthusiasm can be contagious. Unfortunately, sometimes, I try to prime the pump of enthusiasm by exaggerating. 

For example, to celebrate the delicious steaks my brother-in-law grilled for me last week, I said, “Wow! These are awesome!”

The “wow” part would have been okay, but “awesome”? 

According to Webster, “awesome” means “inspiring awe.” So I looked up the word “awe” and found that it means “an emotion variously combining dread…and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime”.* Upon further review, “awesome” seems over the top when describing Duane’s steaks. 

I know others can fall ill from the affliction of overstatement. People will sometimes exaggerate at work. Perhaps they feel excessively frustrated or angry and will “make a mountain out of a molehill” to vent. Others will embellish their resumes. The only area where this never happens is sales. (That last sentence raises the question: does one exaggerate when one is subtle?)

There is an old story** that goes like this. A fellow called his dentist and, with urgency, told him, “I’m suffering from a terrible cavity.”

The dentist worked him in, and when the patient arrived and sat in the dental chair, the specialist peered inside the suffering man’s mouth. He concluded his brief examination by saying, “This will not be a problem. It is a tiny cavity, and I can fix it for you with a small filling.”

“Really?” the patient incredulously asked. “When I stick my tongue into it, it feels huge.”

Those words made the dentist smile. “It’s natural for the tongue to exaggerate, don’t you think?”

Unfortunately, it is natural for the tongue to exaggerate. Maybe that is why Jesus said, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”

Let’s be careful with our words. I speak a lot in public places. There is always a temptation to “lay it on thick” when telling stories, especially when using humor. I’m trying to do better about sticking to the facts or, if I want to exaggerate for humor, let the audience catch my “wink” by saying something like, “I guess it didn’t happen exactly that way, but you get my drift.” 

An old proverb goes like this, Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

I’m trying.

*“Awe.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster,

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/awe. Accessed 17 Mar. 2024.

**From the old publication Bits and Pieces