Small Victories

4 10 2010
No cussing zone

No cussing zone

Last night in our home church group, the gathering, the topic of discussion was “how do we make our religion worthless?”  We read from Mark 7:1-23 and James 1:26:  “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”  We spent some time alone with God then broke into groups of guys and gals to share.

When hearing/reading/listening to scripture on “the tongue” I am always first and foremost convicted about my tendency to cuss—mainly in the car and at computers.  When I look back on my life, I can point to learning this habit as a child.  I grew up in a home where cussing was standard fare when being cut off by a rude driver or if the computer wasn’t functioning properly.  After spending 20 years in that household, cussing is a part of me, but it manifests itself most while driving or working on a non-cooperative computer. 

When Caleb, my oldest, was two, I heard him utter his first curse words.  I was in the kitchen trying to get a lid off a jar and was getting frustrated.  I think I said, “ugghhhhh” or “grrrrrr”, but I know for a fact I didn’t cuss.  Caleb did.  He was sitting on the floor playing with some plastic containers, and he looked up at me, and smiled, and said “G—D—” in response to my irritation.  At that age, he had no clue what the words meant.  In his innocence, he only knew that’s what mommy said when she was annoyed, and he probably thought he was helping me out.

For a moment I was stunned into silence, then I cried while Caleb continued playing peacefully.  I was so overcome with guilt and conviction as to how completely ugly this habit was.  I prayed for forgiveness and for help in overcoming this struggle.  I have continued that same prayer almost every day of my life since then.  I do not want my children to grow up in a home where coarse language is tolerated and accepted as the norm.  I do not want to pass this behavior on to my children as it was passed on to me.

In the years following that incident with Caleb, Matthew 18:6 was a constant, harsh reminder to me of my charge as a parent to not only train my children to walk in the way of righteousness, but to do everything in my power to NOT be the cause of their sin:  “But if anyone causes one of these little ones to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” 

I am very blessed to have a child like Caleb whose sensitive spirit literally causes him to cry when he hears me go off as I do sometimes, mostly in the car.  Caleb has no choice, not being old enough to drive himself, so he is captive to my destructive words on the road.  I thank God that Caleb’s nature thus far is not to repeat what I say.  He is the one calling attention to my sin and encouraging me to respond differently.  He graciously forgives me every time.  God couldn’t give me a more tangible reminder of the love and forgiveness He continually offers me.

When Caleb was four, he told me of the three words you “never, ever say.”  I’m not sure how he came up with this list, but he said, “These are the worst words you can say, mommy.   Shut up!  Stuuuupid.  And F—.”  The first two he said with lots of emotion and expression.  The last one was very matter of fact.  My first reaction was to stifle a giggle.  But once again, I was quickly convicted that even my four-year-old knew the repulsiveness of those words.

Jason, my youngest son, on the other hand. . .his spirit is quite the opposite.  While he cracks me up and is a delight and joy, Jason is stubborn, headstrong, determined, fierce, and prone to ridiculous fits of anger (he’s two of course, but he takes after his momma quite a bit.)  Jason is the one who will pick up this nasty habit of mine by the time he’s in school.  Jason is the one I really have to watch out for.  I feel like time is running out on me to change this caustic behavior in myself.  I hate being the double-minded person James speaks of in 3:9-10:  “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be.”

So last night, I brought up this struggle again in our small group.  (This is no surprise to my friends.)  I mentioned things I have done in the past to help:  pray, listen to music, sing along to a CD, talk to Caleb.  But nothing sticks for more than a few days. 

My friend suggests the root of this struggle is much deeper than being just a habit.  There is something going on with my internals that needs to change.  She suggested I become a woman of great compassion for people.  When someone cuts me off in traffic, rather than living by my defaults and rattling off a phrase a sailor would be proud of, pray for that person.  Who is he?  What kind of day has she had?  What is going on in his life that is causing him to be rude?  Did someone close just die?  Did he lose his job?  Is her child sick?  Is he hurrying to the hospital?  Maybe she’s just a jerk.  No matter, pray for them.

So I tried that this morning on the way to school.  I hope I am not jinxing myself, but the worst thing I said or even thought was “oh my word” when I saw the driver of a school bus full of kids completely blow through a stop sign without even slowing down.  I didn’t cuss.  There’s a small victory. 

While a step in the right direction, not cussing is still not equivalent to showing compassion.  I then wondered, what exactly does it look like to show that person compassion, practically speaking?  How do I show compassion to a person who does something so dangerous and literally places several dozen lives at stake—her life, the lives of the children on the bus, the lives of those in her vehicle’s path?

Then I realized that simply the act of praying for this bus driver was an act of compassion.  Another small victory.

Then I prayed.  Victory!

I cherish your prayers as I continue in my struggle to overcome this ungodly habit.

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6 responses

4 10 2010
Robin

Kelly
Thank you for being so honest about what you struggle with. This is a struggle for me, as well. Your honest description reminded me of I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. ”

We all sin, and just admitting it in front of people who love you brings the sin into the light, you closer to other people, and brings the forgiveness we all need.

4 10 2010
huddlestonk

Thanks for sharing, too, Robin. You are in my prayers as well. Let’s work on finding a date to get together–our turn to host!

6 10 2010
miceliale

It must be hard to watch what you say all of the time and struggle to overcome your bad habit; I admire you for continuing to try and stop your bad habit.

8 10 2010
fosseer

Good for you! Most of my adult friends do, and over the past four years I have found words simply coming out that I never expected to say. I am truly attempting not to, but when the people around you do it seems effortless. Anyway, I understand and YAY for you! 🙂

10 10 2010
postonj

I really liked this post Mrs. Huddleston. I commend you for your efforts and wish you the best of luck in overcoming this obstacle. I also loved the verses you put in. Those were a great addition.

10 10 2010
waylandl

I enjoyed reading this post, Mrs. Huddleston. I am not a fan of curse words, and I am glad that you are making a genuine effort to remove them not only from your life, but from the lives of your children as well. 🙂

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