“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
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!