You know you have reached the epitome of boredom when you create personal challenges for yourself. Here is my newest challenge. It came after a discussion with my BFF’s the other day when we talked about all the ways we pretend, especially around people who might “judge” us or call us hypocrites. We all wear masks when we need them. We never gossip and we never cuss. Right? Oh, my, Ladies, we have work to do.
I was inspired this morning by a rather LOUD fight my neighbor and her boyfriend were having this beautiful Sunday morning. I never really heard his voice, but hers was unmistakable. There were “B words” and “BS words” and many, many, many “F words”. It’s a sign of our social decline that makes it unnecessary to “spell out” these words. I think we all get it. As I watered the plants on my patio, my ear alert and aimed in their direction, I pretended not to notice the verbal assaults taking place next door. That’s when the Holy Spirit whispered Matthew 15:18-20.
“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. These are the things which defile the man…”
And Ephesians 5:4.
“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving…”
[Note: I’m not that awesome. I had to look up the references, but the words came through perfectly.]
God can even use the wild ranting and raving of one lost sinner to convict another sinner, who thinks she’s kinda got it all together. Listening to the young woman across the way screaming obscenities, made me think about the words I use when I’m frustrated or angry. Many years ago, when I was still a young woman and before I came to know the Lord, I remember my Dad telling me that my language was so vile I embarrassed him. My Dad was a sailor in his younger day and he still had the vocabulary to prove it. And I embarrassed him. That hit me pretty hard.
God loves us enough to change us from the inside out whenever and however He sees fit. It was a Wednesday evening 34 years ago when I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart, save my soul, and be Lord of my life. The next morning as I was getting ready to go to work, it became glaringly evident that I was completely incapable of uttering even a single expletive! Well, that was weird. When I drive my car is usually where my very best and most heartfelt verbal expressions are the most fluent. But suddenly, nothing. Speaking without cussing became my new normal. But time moves forward and when we are not diligent, we can slip back into our old ways. And, sometimes worse. Luke 11:24-26 says,
“When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there…”
I must confess, the cleaned-up version of Roni has taken a few hits…all of which I have brought upon myself. I’m ashamed to say, the cussing has returned, but now it’s only in secret where no one can hear. Let us not forget, however, God is always listening. It has occurred to me that if God thought it was important enough to clean up my mouth the very first thing, not cussing must be kinda important to Him. And I feel terrible. Oh, how I must be disappointing my God. So…
I have challenged myself to watch my language. I may go so far as to learn to eliminate even those “substitute” cuss words. You know the ones. Shucks, darn, OMGoodness, and fudge. Do we really need even those? It’s going to be a rough road, but I want to try. I’ve begun to write down the words that so easily fall out of my mouth. I’m still trying to be careful, but I vow to write them all down to increase my awareness and then find an appropriate replacement; even if that replacement is nothing more than an enthusiastic grunt or growl.
Challenges should always come with a warning.
[WARNING! Be on your toes, for you never know when you will be tested.]
I think I should never drive again. What in the world happens to people when they get behind the wheel of a 3,000 pound weapon of mass destruction and are given a license to do so?! I was me, the sweet adorable me, as I drove happily along the winding mountain roads and hills, even slowing abruptly to let a doe and her fawn cross the road. That made me smile. I love living in the woods. Soon enough, I entered the huge parking lot of one of our two local big box stores. Just a quick stop to pick up a loaf of bread, some bananas, and some cat food. As I happily cruised the parking lot searching for a suitable parking space, an even bigger weapon of mass destruction backed out of the space it was vacating and nearly hit me. It startled me so badly and happened so quickly, it jolted sweet, adorable me somewhere into oblivion and ugly, snarling, spewing, cursing me took the wheel. I don’t think it’s appropriate to repeat the obscenities I was sure was blistering the interior of my vehicle. It is incredibly embarrassing to admit that I am still capable of uttering those terrible words. I realized, in that moment, that there really is an ugly, snarling, spewing cursing me who I do not like at all. That part of me exploded into action the moment I was caught off guard. In that moment, I remembered,
“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man…”
Is that the condition of my heart? I humbly hung my head and appealed to the God I love with every ounce of my being. “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” Oh, yes, Ladies, I have a lot of work to do.