Friday, September 20, 2013

Salt... and Light?

So let's chat a bit about LANGUAGE.  You know, the "salty" kind.  Most of the time I go through my day just basically being myself, and if something pisses me off, well then I say that it pissed me off.  But for a long time, something happened when I went to church... it was like going to my Grandmother's house, and while she didn't FREAK OUT if I said something inappropriate, I could FEEL the temperature drop several degrees while she LOOKED at me with that pinched-up-mouth expression on her face, and I just wanted to take it all back, rewind those words like a chewed up cassette by shoving a pencil in my ear and twisting HARD.  So I got all awkward and apologetic and embarrassed and started blushing and whatnot, all of which I'm SURE she was ABSOLUTELY FINE WITH, because "Young Ladies" do NOT cuss.

So. A little context.  I was grafted into her family when my mom married my stepdad when I was 5 years old, by which point I was quite the little wolverine child.  Seriously people, if I was CAPABLE of eating with utensils, it certainly wasn't a priority, and most of the time I ate at the coffee table in the living room while sitting on the floor. I'm sure I used a fork in some capacity, but I also wore bib overalls a LOT, and I learned early on that the (hidden) front of my shirt concealed all manner of sins.  :D  In contrast, my cousin was a year younger than I was, and was one of those dainty children that wore lace ruffle socks and frilly lampshade dresses and white gloves TO PRESCHOOL.  Yeah, I was pretty much SCREWED from the get-go.

So my behavior in church became kinda like those bib overalls.  When I got irritated, (if I verbalized anything at all!) the words coming out of my face would be something along the lines of totally unconvincing "Goodness!" or "Geez Louise!" if I was really ticked.  But there was a resounding "DAMMIT!" echoing in my skull, lurking around like tomorrow's laundry just WAITING for those bib overalls to come off (usually in the car on the way home from service)!  And the character assassination of "the offender" that would start up in my head was really something else.

And then something happened.  I got sick.  REALLY sick.  Like for a DECADE.  And somewhere in there, at some point, it just boiled down to not having the energy to edit anymore.  The filter came off.  It actually came ENTIRELY OFF for awhile, but wow, a lot of people don't actually want to know how you're actually doing when they start the casual "how are you today?" conversation.  And after awhile, I learned who was safe to share my stuff with, and who thought I was just losing my mind (I'm sure they were TOTALLY praying for me in those little clusters that would grow silent when I staggered by on my cane).  So the filter went back, but only partway, and only when it was context-appropriate.

And the rest of the time, I was HONEST.  If I was in pain, I said so. When I wanted prayer, I asked for it. When I couldn't do something, I said NO.  What a notion!  And one day, when it had been weeks of sleeping on the sofa in cat naps because the pain would break through the meds and wake me up, the sleep deprivation broke me right down into an isolated puddle of mess, and I'd FINALLY made it out to church for the first time in three weeks because I was just THAT DESPERATE FOR CHURCH, someone gossipy said something stupid and insensitive, I told her to "shut the fuck up for once".  In church.  On a Sunday.  In front of I don't even know who, because I was too blinded by pain and rage and the unfairness of it all.

And God met me there.  Not only did He meet me there, but He met HER there too.  And several people around us saw what was happening and stepped in and we had some real honesty for the first time in a long time in that church.  It was one of those moments that happen in the movies where you hear the needle screech off the record and time STOPS.  Because SHIT GOT REAL.  All of a sudden, we all remembered what the acronym for "FINE" stands for (Fucked-up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional).  And on some level, we're all "FINE".

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not advocating that we all develop the skill of ripping each others heads off with profanity.  I do believe in being sensitive to my audience, especially if that audience has little ears in it.  But there's something new happening here, at least in my circle of influence.  People seem to be more willing to share their burdens with me.  Deep stuff.  Hard stuff, the kind of stuff I call "heavy lifting".  And the more I think about it, the more I think it's because I have somehow managed to project the aura that I'm not going to be shocked by what they share and judgmental because they don't have it all figured out.  Because it's now common knowledge that I don't have my act together, I certainly don't have everything all figured out, but I'm at least approachable with something that's fucked up.  Because they don't have to take the risk of sharing sensitive stuff while ALSO feeling like they have to watch their language.

In the context of integrity, which is what this blog is about, if God hears "fucked up shit" in my head, then if He is the Audience of One (the only One who's opinion really matters anyway), then I'm not doing anyone any favors by applying sanitizer to my tongue (within reason, of course).  I've maintained for some time now that I'm open to His leading on the subject, and I've read the scriptures about unclean language coming out of your mouth, and there are times when it is appropriate to "clean it up" just like I'd vacuum my house when company's coming.  But until He tells me to start cleaning it up for real on a permanent basis, I'm going to do my best to change my heart over certain things and let my mouth overflow from there.  At least it's true.

Apparently "light" is going to have to wait for next time.  This "salt" business had a lot of meat on it.


  1. What I love about this post and this subject is that everyone has a story and when you see someone's actions within context it all makes sense (well, most of the time). We could all discuss the benefits/problems of using "salty language" and totally miss the deeper issues that are affecting each other. It's like making a huge deal out of hot topics in our culture and news and completely ignoring why they exist in the first place. I want to hear STORY. ~Maya

  2. Your honesty is why I never wonder whether or not you want an honest answer to the "how are you" question, and why I feel far more comfortable giving you an honest answer than I do with other people!

    1. Good to know I'm reading that accurately! Because I DO want an honest answer to "How are you!?" because I CARE how you ARE! :D

  3. LOVE it! I'm shouting AMEN at my computer screen.