May 7, 2012

You Said What???

We were sitting with our small group at church discussing the way the world tells us to respond to different situations. You know, like if someone says something nasty to you, you should say something nasty back. Or how you are the most important person in your world, etc. 

“Society tells us that marriage is disposable, that if your spouse does something seemingly unforgivable like cheat, or simply no longer makes you happy and fulfilled, you should just leave him.” 

Is what I wanted to say. 

What came out, however, was this: “you should just dump his sorry butt.” 

Except I did not say *butt*. I used the real word that completes the quote. All three letters of it. 

Immediately my face was some shade of ripe tomato, my hand flew to my mouth and the whole class burst out laughing. It was a few weeks before they let me live that one down. 

It may not be a big deal to most people. You may use far worse expletives in your daily life without problems, and know lots worse words to pepper your speech. Personally, I think a word is only made into a “bad” word by the way we use it. I can call you a fluffy bunny with such venom in my voice that would make calling you something far uglier a much less demeaning name. 

But there are two reasons why this was such an embarrassing moment for me. 

First, I am the pastor’s wife. My husband, the pastor, was sitting next to me in that class and you just don’t expect the pastor’s wife to use an expletive…in small group…in front of the pastor. But that’s actually not that big of a deal to me. Our people are very forgiving and gracious and have a healthy sense of humor. They know “pastor’s wife” is just a fancy name for that girl who sits in the front row. 

The big reason is that I simply don’t cuss. I never really have. I tried it in high school because it was the cool thing to do but it just did not fit who I was or who I was trying to become. By the time I got to college I decided I don’t use that kind of language. Period. It’s a personal conviction of mine and people who know me know this about me. It is my own interpretation of Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)

I know it offends some people. And while some of my beliefs offend people and I have no intention of changing them, I find no reason why I should use such language if it will make someone else uncomfortable. You know Paul’s idea: I have a right to do anything, but not everything is beneficial and all that jazz. So why do it? 

But that’s just my take. And the one I’ll pass on to my kiddies. With them, since they don’t yet know any cuss words that we know of, we talk in terms of being kind. We tell them God made their mouth to say things that are good and uplifting and encouraging and beautiful, and not things to tear down, hurt, or destroy others. We teach them what James taught: “Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (3:11-13). 

Bitter water from a mouth is much more than a cuss word, I know. Bitter water can be complaints, criticism, name-calling, spiteful and angry words and so much more. And I also know that what comes out of the mouth is what the heart is full of so the teaching begins much deeper than “watch what you say.” And we are. We are instructing them beyond just controlling their tongue to guarding their hearts. 

In the meantime, I have to watch how I respond to frustration. Not because I’m the pastor’s wife. Not because of what others may think (gasp!). Not even because using a cuss word is “bad.” But simply because I am called to be different in ways the world may not understand. To show there is a better way, another way to handle life than what we may see around us every day. To reflect in my actions and speech the gentle, humble ways of my Lord. 

That’s why the slip-up embarrassed me so. It was out of character. It was unexpected. And it was a reminder that the work in me is not yet completed

But my friends’ reaction to it was encouraging

When an ugly word out of my mouth shocks them, then I know I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to do its job in my every day relationships. When hurtful and offensive speech coming out of this girl’s lips ceases to surprise those around me, then I’ll know I’ve strayed too far from what I know to be true. 

Or maybe I can just say the devil made me do it, y’all!


Katharine said...

Awesome post Gaby! Hope your Monday is marvelous!

kendalprivette said...

being a christian doesn't keep us from saying/doing offensive things, but being a christians DOES make us hate it or feel uncomfortable with it. and i love that. and i pray it for my sons....

I Live in an Antbed said...

Dear Gaby,
This is precious. I feel the same way you do. We don't say "stupid" either, simply because it is misused so often. The desire for personal holiness is testimony to the indwelling Spirit. I'm so thankful He continues to be patient, instead of packing His bags and leaving! :)

Mariah Magagnotti said...

Speaking of words you say, does the word "y'all" actually come out of your mouth?? :) I'm laughing at the thought of you saying that phrase...

Jean Wise said...

Hi GAby, first of all I love your honesty and the way you shared this story. And second, be gentle with yourself. you are human.... love ya

Sharita Knobloch said...

Such a great story and lesson to go along with it... In my Christian walk, I have been all over the gamut for "wholeness" things to come out of my mouth-- from working in a hog barn, to also doing it because it was "cool" in HS and college, now as I am maturing weeding it out as much as possible. Praise the Lord for a God who continues to work on my heart (and habits!) Thank you for blessing me today :-)

Michelle Eichner said...

What precious honesty, Gabby! And what a great point you make that we are called to please Christ, not any one else. period. It's a great reminder. Thanks for sharing. Hugs, Michelle

jennifer said...

Gaby, you are so cute! And, yes; the Holy Spirit is definitely working through you. I encounter God's truth every time I read one of your posts.

(And I just want to say I am so jealous of your girls' weekend! It looks like you had a blast--I guess I can be happy for you.. :) )

Debbie said...

Aside from the part about being "the girl who sits on the front row" (love that part, btw), I could have written this post. I'm so much like you in that it's just not something we do around here. I wasn't raised by a cussing family so it isn't something I'm comfortable hearing, let alone saying. Add to that a conviction of the Spirit, and I'm you.

And yet, it and other such slang or casual speech can pop out without me knowing that it was even lurking in there waiting for a chance to pop. I think it might be the over profane world we live in.

I love... just LOVE the encouragement that you gave. If unwholesome talk or any of the fleshly pursuits of the tongue stop surprising my friends, I know I have a problem.

God bless your ever-present honesty! He uses you in a mighty way. I'd say He gave Mr. Gaby a perfect girl to sit on his front row.

The Watered Soul said...

Hi Gabby, arrived at your blog after doing a bit of blog hopping. I couldn't help bu laugh as I read about your slip of the tongue. You last paragraph packs a lot of punch.

Amy Sullivan said...

Yep, like you even more now. I'm sure of it.

Kathleen Jaeger said...

Gaby, I can relate to saying things....everyone laughing...but me still feeling embarrassed because it's not my intent of what I said...too many times for me. thing, when others see the goof-ups, per se, it helps them to relate to us because they see us as in progress. Yes, none of us are finished yet. I can SOOOO relate.

soulstops said...

Dear Gaby, I love that you are also teaching your kids about the heart behind the words. I also love that your congregation showed you grace and that they know your heart and that you are still in process like the rest of us. Hope you had a most blessed Mother's Day :)