HEARTLIGHTTwo Minute Meditations

Real Audio







Suggested Internal Links
Ohnosecond!, by Phil Ware

    In the fast world today, we figure time in milliseconds and nanoseconds. In the frustration of our lives, we count time in ohnoseconds. While you may never have heard of an ohnosecond, you’ve had them. They’re part of our fallen world along with Murphy’s Law, ingrown toenails, flat tires, colds, and that irritating nonsleeping constant talker in the seat next to you on transcontinental flights.

    An ohnosecond is my buddy Paul’s name for that strange but curious moment that happens when you do something stupid (“pull a goober” as I call it)—part of you knows it, but not soon enough to prevent it from happening. Let me give you an example.

Life is filled with ohnoseconds.
    My son was flying in from out of town. He had the only other set of keys to his car. I had driven his car to get it washed and filled with gas as a surprise. As I was getting out of the car, I felt and heard the keys fall out of my pocket and onto the seat. Problem was, I was already in the “get out and lock it” motion. I realized the keys were on the seat when the door was half shut and a half of an inch out of reach. That moment from my realization to the time the door shut was an “ohnosecond.” In that short time, I managed to think “Oh, no!” about 50 times!

    Life is filled with ohnoseconds. Many of them much more serious than locking keys in the car. They usually involve the things we say to others. Often times, we say them because we aren’t fully tuned in, aren’t thinking about them, or have thought or said things bad about them behind their back and they come out in public. In fact, I believe our family life can be improved dramatically if we can just eliminate most of our ohnoseconds. So let me offer you a strategy for dealing with the world of ohnoseconds.

    First, remember the importance of your words. Don’t be overly quick to say things, render opinions, or pontificate. Words leave a long residue of stain and pain when they are spoken irresponsibly. Jesus warned us not to be careless with our words and his brother James reminded us to be slow to use them.

    Second, listen to others rather than just riding out their conversation. What they’re saying may not seem important to you, but to be heard, really heard, is about the greatest blessing we can give someone else. Rather than thinking of what we’re going to say next, we need to make sure we hear them. We’ll pull a lot less goobers if we will only listen a little more carefully.

    Third, rather than trying to fix what we’ve said and try to come up with something clever or something to cover during that ohnosecond, we need to ask for forgiveness. Not effusively, not repeatedly, just simply: “I’m really sorry. That was stupid (or insensitive) of me. Please forgive me.” Then drop it. A day or two later you can drop a note and remind them how important they are, but don’t rub in the hurt by exaggerating or prolonging the pain of your “Oh, no!” blunder.

    We’re not going to navigate life perfectly. But with a little more care, we can avoid a lot of our ohnoseconds with those we love. That will make life a lot better for all of us! As for the rest of those ohnoseconds, there’s not much else to do but smile sheepishly and say, “Oh, no!”


HEARTLIGHT® Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-98, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
May be reprinted and reused for non-commercial purposes only if copyright credits are appropriately displayed.
HEARTLIGHT is a registered service mark of Heartlight, Inc.