“I want to understand why you don’t swear.”
This question came from my co-worker Austin, after a long discussion on whether or not swearing was worth it and whether or not I would ever do it.
[Picture the following happening in a small hometown deli. If you ever wonder what grocery store employees talk about all day, here’s an idea.]
A: People give words meaning, so if you decide they don’t mean anything …
Me: I’m happy with my substitutes.
A: Would you ever write a swear word?
Me: If I was quoting someone or writing a character who’d realistically say it. But if I read those pieces out loud, I wouldn’t say the swear words.
A: What if I pushed you to?
Me: What is everyone’s fascination with trying to get me to swear?
A: Because you don’t! That’s fascinating!
I’m used to the people I work with pushing me to swear, doing almost everything in their power to make me flip a lid — or the birdie — but I’ve never had anyone actually try to understand why I don’t.
Notice that I say “don’t”, not “haven’t.” I’m not claiming innocence. I have sworn. I’ve used the F-word, and called people female dogs, and taken the Lord’s name in vain. But I don’t claim those moments of my life proudly.
Not because they hurt me (they didn’t). Not because they made my mouth feel dirty and my stomach queasy (they did). Not because I got in trouble (I didn’t because I swore when I was by myself).
I’m ashamed of those moments in my life and today I don’t swear because I have a God who would never tell anyone to F— off. I have a God who loves and forgives and graciously gives to those who ask and believe. I have a God who overlooks my wrongdoing even though my wrongs are the very thing that nailed His Son to the cross. I have a God who decided to take me in, adopt me as His own, and never let me go.
Why would I ever want to shame Him by calling Him my Lord and then telling someone to F— themselves?
And why would I shout profanity out of frustration when my savior Jesus Christ hung on a cross and — rather than cursing those who put Him there — lifted His eyes to Heaven and asked His Father to forgive them for they know not what they do?
Why would I ever want to smear that name?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“[W]hatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
That’s what I try to do. I try to focus on the good that God has blessed me with and share those things with the people around me. Not the bad. Not the things that go wrong. If I mess up, I remember that God’s plan is bigger than fixing my mistakes and He can use my mishaps to create great beauty.
Is there a need for the F-word or the S-word or the B-word?
No. Not really.