July 15, 2013

:on ann lamott and curse words:

i like anne lamott. she's real and honest and flawed and beautiful and offensive all at the same time. she is a story teller sharing her ugly beautiful journey of faith. a journey that often includes mistakes, mishaps and four letter words. i still take a shallow breath when i read or hear a follower of christ use profanity. it comes from years of training on how to identify other believers based on the following: they don't smoke, they don't drink, have pre-marital sex or curse, ever. 

i was once told that if someone uses profanity in front of me to hold a stern grimace, look them dead in the eyes and say, that language offends me. bet they won't use those words in front of you after that, she said.

i often wonder if the disciples ever used profanity. what would curse words have been in that time, in that language? have you ever seen the deadliest catch? fishermen are nothing short of four letter words. do you suppose jesus looked at them and said that language offends me? 

jesus doesn't strike me as one that was offended by much. among his companions you might find thieves, liars and whores just to mention a few. i don't picture these people suddenly becoming prim and proper because jesus joined the party. this ugliness was part of their journey on the road to the beautiful.

the ugly doesn't disappear when you encounter jesus, but it does become less in sight of the beauty he brings to your story.


i once read a post by someone i admire as a writer and believer. i said to jacob across the table, so-and-so used the f word. eisley looks up from her artwork and says, mommy, what's the f word? she's dying to know what the f word is and i keep telling her it's just a strong word that our family doesn't use. it's like stupid and butt. we just don't use those words because they are strong and aren't appropriate for children to use. 

in parenting it isn't my goal to teach my children what should and shouldn't offend them. this will come to them as they work out their own salvation. however, i pray every day that they are offended more by the people that go hungry, by children orphaned and unloved, the widows alone and lonely, the poor, the hurting, the broken and beaten down. these are the things i hope offend and break their hearts. the very things that offended and broke the heart of jesus.

let us all be offended.

*linking up with carissa for miscellany monday 


  1. Hi There,

    I Rarely Comment On Blogs But This Stirred Me So Here I Am :-

    I Don't Hold NoN-Believers To The Same Standards As Christians And So As Much As It Pains Me To Hear Foul Language From Them They Are Lost, Don't Know Better And Don't Have The Holy Spirit In Them To Convict Them.

    As Believers, We Are Called To A Higher Standard, We Are Set A Part And Called To Be A Light, We should Look Different, Act Different And Speak Differently. Is Cursing Going To Send You To Hell? Absolutely Not! Is It The End Of The World? Of Course Not. But Out Of The Overflow Of The Heart Comes Our Speech.

    As New Believers, Most Likely You'Re Right, Rarely Instant Change In All Our Habits, Such As Cursing, But We Are Changed By Jesus And As We Walk Closely With Him And Walk In The Spirit We Are Made New, Including Our Language.

    I Do Believe The Disciples Would Have Changed Their Language being Around Jesus Because He Is Holy And Was A Model To Them On How To Live. Again, It Was Probably Gradual, But Who Knows Maybe Right Away.

    We, As Believers, Know What Is Considered Bad Language (Unwholesome Talk) In Our Society. Even Though It's Becoming More And More Used Publicly, We Know The Difference. And So Just Because It's More "Acceptable" Doesn't Mean We should Conform To The World.

    Just Like We Teach Our Kids To Not Use Words Like Stupid Because They're Not Kind And Are Offensive, So We Must Teach Them The Same For Curse Words.

    As Adults We Know There Are Lots Of Other Words We Can Use And We Must Use Self Control. Cursing Is A Bad Habit For Some And Like We pray For The Lord To Help Us And Change Us With Other Bad Habits, We Must Do The Same With Our Language.

    Again, Not The Biggest Of All Habits And sins But That Doesn't Give Us A Free Pass To Ignore It, Or Like Some people I Know Use It To Fit In Or Seem Like A Cool Or "Free" Christian.

    Jesus Has FreeD Us From Bad Habits And Sins Not Given Us Freedom To Continue In Those Ways :-)

    Bless You And Thanks For Sharing your heart With Your readers And Allowing Us To Dialogue.

    In Him,

    Ephesians 4:20-24 NIV

    That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

    Ephesians 4:29 NIV

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    Galatians 5:1 NIV

    It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    Galatians 5:13 NIV

    You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

    1 Peter 2:16 NIV

    Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

  2. This is a great post, and something I came across whilst reading Bird by Bird (by Lamott) and then writing about it on my blog (using a asterisked swear word). Someone... ahem, Mom... was worried that someone would read it and think I was using that word. Which I guess I was, but I wasn't, but that's really not the point (especially in our current culture where swearing is widely culturally accepted, even in "Christian circles"). The point is, well, like you said: there are much worse things to be offended by: real, raw side effects of the fall that break people, entrap people and curse people every day. And sometimes, a swear word is the only thing you can really say, especially about such things. And about shi**y first drafts, as Bird by Bird has taught me. :) Thanks for sharing this, Melissa!

  3. Love your perspective on this. So often when we're "offended" by a word, it's stemming from a place of judgment towards that person. My dad is a pastor. He was in a casual setting at someone's house recently and someone there (who didn't know him or what his job was) said the F word. Then someone pointed out my dad's presence and what he does for a living. My dad, without hesitation, said something funny to the guy and used the F word right back. The room burst into laughter. My mom was horrified. But my dad was much more concerned that this man didn't feel judged or uncomfortable around my dad. He was more concerned with the relationship with this unsaved man. Would Jesus have cussed right back?? Maybe, maybe not. ;) But I agree with you, he wouldn't have let anyone feel uncomfortable around him.

  4. Melissa - While I feel the desire personally to not speak like that because I feel profanity is often a lazy way to express a thought, I agree 100% with you on your point. If my children love the unloveable, and feed the hungry, and shelter the broken, and share the love of Jesus to all they encounter, chances are their language will be in line with that.

    We as believers have often misaligned our priorities.

    Beautiful post.....now come visit us!


  5. So... I love this and I have a story to tell you. But you can't let me forget it because it reminded me of you and how we were raised to judge those that weren't "christian". love you sweet friend!! :)


words are like honey, sweet to my soul, so feel free to share yours.