” What kind of Christian am I, If I use words like that?”
“I hate this about myself. If out of the heart the mouth speaks.. I must be full of awful things.” This has been my inner monologue for months:( because I’ve re-developed a mouth problem. And a condemnation problem. A lovely 1-2 punch to the gut of grace.
When I was a kid I swore with abandon. It was mostly for shock and awe and because that’s how we all talked without our parents around. I’ll never forget the time this latchkey kid came home and cussed like a crazy teen at the barking dog who was interrupting my phone call, only to turn around and discover my dad hadn’t gone to work that day. He was sick.
Suddenly so was I. I was also: grounded.
Over time the fun and shock and awe wore off. I eventually became a Christian and learned that swearing might lead to worse than grounding. It was bad enough to tick off my dad, what about my Heavenly Father?
For years I never said a cuss word. I was pretty judgmental of others who did, and pretty prideful that I was “above” that.
Then cancer and all the ugly that it entails happened. I’ll be honest- there have been days when I’ve mumbled (sometimes very loudly) more than a few choice words. Mostly over things like broken appliances, repeated pet accidents over flowing toilets on the way to appointments and near misses while driving due to idiots on the road. I’ve asked God what the h*** he’s doing and does he even give a d***. Yeah. I’m no better with god than I am with people. What you see is what you get. That includes god. And my anger and stress level were pretty high in regards to Him, too. Other people get healed, why can’t my favorite person?? I’m a jerk. But I’m a consistent jerk. I’m consistently honest and consistently believe that God can handle my worst. I also know he deserves my best. Hence my struggle:(
It’s low grade cuss words.(lest you judge me like I have.. no f bombs. Maybe a word that rhymes with chicken once in a while..you know, the barely swears that provoke more internal guilt than they do shock or awe.) funny how we grade cuss words. Low grade up to the grand daddy of them all. And we all know what that one is.
For me, I think cussing is a warning sign. Not so much of my spiritual condition, but of my stress level. I’ve gone over the edge and way past my limit when I’m using words like that.its just not a daily thing for me.
My husband graciously and lovingly (with a twinge of judgment and legalism) confronted me. Several times. And I, of course, got angry. Probably because I wasn’t so thrilled myself- as you can see in that first paragraph of inner monologue. *sigh.
In the middle of an extended and serious hospital stay a few months ago it came to a head. My stress. My mouth. And others responses to it.
I was pretty sure even Jesus was ready to finally vote me off of Christian island. For the record: This did not help my stress level.
Then, one afternoon it all came pouring out. To one of our pastors during a visit. One part in tattling on me and the rest in the whole stinkin situation.
I was braced for a rebuke. I was ready to be told or shown how much I disappointed him. I was ready to be grounded. I suspected a good old shunning.
Instead: he swore. I honestly don’t even remember what low grade cuss he said. It was a cuss of acknowledgment of how much this all sucks. It finished with: so you’re human?
Tears spilled over the bags under my eyes. After the bags were filled, they dropped off my chin. So did the guilt I’d been beating myself up with. (A lot of this talk was directed at myself , in my head, for being such a sinning, stupid and selfish idiot.)
Then, we laughed. I can’t really explain it, but it was a holy moment where instead of someone heaping coals on the fire of my guilt and frustration, he poured out the healing balm of a cuss word. In that word I knew He got it. He understood. He joined me in my mess and by doing that, he helped me out of it. He reminded me that god can handle our worst. He’s not impressed or surprised by it. Our emotion doesn’t need to be cleaned up to be offered to him. He’s kind of good at taking care of that with grace.
I’d like to say that since that day I haven’t cussed. But that would be lying. I have my moments. My days. My weeks. But here’s what’s different. When I do, I no longer heap condemnation onto the slush pile of my heart. I’m learning to cut myself some grace and remember that I’m human. I’m not going to be perfect until god perfects me.
For now..his strength is made perfect in my weakness, by grace.
So there. Now you know. Sometimes I’m mouthy. Maybe you’re laughing. “Seriously? You think swearing is bad? You get worked up over that?” Yeah. I do. That and a lot of other lame things. And not so lame , more like really awful- things.
I truly love god, and I want to honor him with all I am. Even here. When I’m a short fused overwhelmed by an overwhelming situation, cussin cusser. Who’s human.
If you think that’s bad, you should hear how I treat myself for being callous, mean and not gentle… but that’s for another fri**** day.
Dear lord, you know me. All of me. The things I think, the things I say. The things I feel. And you love me. Even here. Please God, when I see and hear others who’ve lost it let me be like that precious pastor and see beyond the surface reactions to the heart. Make me be a conduit of grace. Even if I cuss once in a while. Maybe even by cussing, like that holy moment with a beloved friend and pastor. In Jesus blessed and perfect so I don’t have to be- name- amen.
*pastors name with held to protect him from judgments that miss the point…;)