Marge-FenelonIt seems there’s something to be learned from every dopey mistake I ever make. In fact, some of my dopey mistakes turn out to be not so dopey after all. The other day, I made one of the not-so-dopiest of all.

I picked up my voicemail messages. Actually, that’s not the dopey mistake; it’s the unveiling of the dopiness. Let me explain. The first message was from our pharmacist regarding a prescription I’d had refilled. Now, refilling prescriptions isn’t a dopey thing to do, but the way you do it could be. Our pharmacy has one of those automated systems with which you punch in your contact information and all your prescription numbers plus your height, weight, number of children, zip code, and color preference. Then you can leave a personal message for the pharmacist and the lady with the robotic voice tells you when your order will be ready. When I’d called in my prescriptions, I’d left a message for the pharmacist, and that’s when things got dopey.

The return voicemail message from the pharmacist went something like this: “Hi, this message is for Margaret. This is Geraldine at the pharmacy. First, I just want to tell you thank you for the ‘God bless you’ at the end of your message, because, boy! do I ever need a ‘God bless you’ right now! You have no idea how that made my day. And now, I want to let you know that one of the prescriptions you ordered…”

My jaw dropped. I hadn’t realized I’d said “God bless you” at the end of my message for the pharmacist. In fact, I’m usually pretty cautious about that because I’ve gotten some awfully unhappy responses for doing so in public places or during phone calls, and so I tried to curb that habit. Of course, I do frequently slip up by calling my doctor “Father” and my confessor “Doctor.” That’s another one of those dopey mistakes. In the end, it’s almost the same – they’re both healers of a kind, right? So, I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that I goofed up and ended my pharmacy message with “God bless you.”

It’s the pharmacist’s reaction that really surprised me, in a most touching way. What a great thing that my dopey little slip up had brought joy to this woman who, it seems, had been having a really tough day! I was delighted that I, albeit inadvertently, was able to lift her spirits.

I’ve begun to rethink my “God bless you” ban. I may have ticked off a lot of people by saying it, but I also could have uplifted a number of them. What’s more, by NOT saying it, I may have missed the opportunity to brighten the day of goodness knows how many others!

Sometimes it’s worth taking the risk and making a dopey mistake, especially when we err on the side of charity. Really, what’s the worst thing that could happen? I might make a few enemies, but I bet I’d make even more friends.

Who knows? I might even lift the spirits of someone who’s having a very bad day, and my words could be exactly what they need to hear at that moment. If I hold back, I might miss that opportunity. How sad would that be?

With the world around us becoming more and more anti-God, it’s sometimes difficult to know how to approach and respond to others. We don’t want to offend others, and yet we must be true to our Christian identity. The early Christians greeted one another with a kiss of peace. That might be going at bit too far these days, but some other godly pleasantry could do others and ourselves a lot of good. At the very least, it would be a reminder that God does indeed exist, even though there are those who would rather proclaim him dead.

After considering the effect my message had on our pharmacist, I’ve decided to lift the “God bless you” ban. I won’t make an issue of it, but I will allow myself to continue making my dopey “mistakes,” knowing that some of them will turn out to be the not-so-dopey kind.

God bless you!

(Fenelon, a mother of four, and her husband, Mark, belong to St. Anthony Parish, Milwaukee. Visit her Web site: