I don’t swear vocally very much … anymore. I used to swear like a sailor. I think it was for a few reasons:
- shock value – I have a very sweet face (usually!) – when people heard my mouth, it gave me some street cred.
- I like making people laugh – and swearing is the easiest, cheapest way to garner laughter. If you have to swear to make people laugh, you’re a poor comedian.
- “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person” (Matthew 15:18, NETBible)
In other words, my heart was filthy; thus, my speech was crass, irreverent, gross. Notice that reasons 1 and 2 above are all about me. All about showing off, getting a reaction, loving myself.
Instead, I realized, I need to get my heart straight so that my speech would be lovely – encouraging. The speech of a “helper” with a glorious creator. A woman who worships with her tongue.
So I did. I thought.
Then, if I stubbed my toe or hit my head or dropped something, I would swear again. Why? Again, “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person.” It was still in my heart. I had just scrubbed the outside a little bit and worked a little harder to keep the ugly off of my tongue. But it still works its way out, doesn’t it?
Lately, I’ve been pretty lazy. Not with my speech, of course. In my thoughts! Isn’t that so much better?
I’ve gotten to where I’m swearing as much in my head as I used to with my mouth. Cursing my husband, swearing at an email, inserting !@#$%s when I didn’t get my way or I was running late and the person in front of me decided to obey the speed limit.
How is that any different?
That depraved heart of mine is still showing off – but only to me.
I have to say, it’s pretty pathetic when you have to swear in your head so that you feel cool or fun or “with it”. But my worthiness doesn’t come from others, no, not even from myself:
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:8-10, NETBible, emphasis mine)
I am worthy because the creator of this universe bestows worth on me. He created me to carry his very image (Genesis 1:26-28)! Even more than that, he gives me more worth than I could ever deserve: the very worthiness of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. Only be trusting in His salvation!
So when I swear now, what should I do? How about a little thought replacement? Instead of (or after!) my urge to swear…to myself… I can remember this:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NETBible, emphasis mine)