I found myself today, almost saying “if I swear, that means I’m okay.” The first thing that I thought, was “that is a strange thing to say, as a follower of Jesus”. The circumstance was that I was putting up a new shower curtain rod in my son’s bathroom. The old tension rod had lost its tension, and was barely resting on the tub enclosure, and I was trying to put the new rod about 8 inches higher, so that the shower curtain liner wouldn’t drag in the tub. Well, as I was measuring, and the new one fell because I hadn’t cranked up the tension fully yet. It made a loud noise, followed by my loud “Son of a B****”
Today is Sunday, and though I overslept and didn’t go to church, I took my Bible and my journal and went to Denny’s instead for a late breakfast. It was a good time. And I’m not sure we are done quite yet. But I marveled at what I found myself almost saying “if I swear, that means I’m okay.”
I sensed there was real truth in it. And since Jesus is the one through whom grace and truth came (John 1:17), that is where I needed to go.
I have to admit, that a friend and counselor brought up to me a new area in which I might be religious. Being religious, was one of the things that damaged my marriage and family greatly. I have asked the Lord to search me and try me, to show me if there is any religion still in me. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” ( Ps 139:23 NLT). I have even thought that God might be calling me to resist religion specifically, since I have known the suffering that it has caused.
So I started to think, and ask. One other thing that is related to this has to do with my dad. My dad swore a lot. Lots of times of being very colorful in his swearing. Lots of times of swearing at something inanimate, telling it to do something specifically, e.g. “Get in there, you #&%* “. And lots of times of using God’s name as part of it.
God has taught me some things about swearing before, as well. One time in my late 40s, I was carrying something rather large, probably too large to be carrying alone. And I had to go down a small embankment with it. You guessed it. The grass had dew on it, and my feet went out from under me. The thing that I was carrying, fell on me. And my jeans ended up with a muddy, grass stained smear on the butt. I came up God damning. Angry. So angry. But soon my heart sank. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to treat His name as precious. I knew that His heart for me was also for me to treat His name as precious. So I asked for help. Confessing it all. What the Lord said next really surprised me. He said “the next time that you are tempted, use the word Father, and not the word God.” I replied, “Really, You want me to say ‘Father damn …’ “. His answer was simply “yes.”
What I came to realize was that I was most prone to say “God damn” when I felt alone and overwhelmed in a situation. I wanted rescued. I wanted the situation changed. But when I said “Father damn”, I usually couldn’t get past “Father”. Because when I said Father, I no longer felt alone. He was with me, all the time. (Deu 31:6, Heb 13:5)
Today, was a different lesson. My first thoughts were
- If I am swearing, then I am still alive
- If I am swearing, then I am not putting out a fire, or running for bandage to apply direct pressure to a gushing wound
- If, I am swearing, I am not running for the fire extinguisher.
I didn’t come to a conclusion, but I know that he will have one. For now, I find comfort into songs,
Chonda Pierce’s song “Silent and Still” contains the refrain “I don’t know how You’ll speak to me, but I know that You will”. I love that confidence. It is a gift.
And Ellie Holcomb’s “Find You Here”, is all about “I didn’t know that I would find You here.” One of a list of “Here in the middle” is “here in the middle of the healing that hasn’t happened yet” It may be that my religious nature still heeds His healing and cleansing touch. It may be swearing. Sometimes, I need to notice Him, and thank Him, when I may not know where I am (other than here). And when things still don’t seem good, but because His is here, they are.