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Mar 11, 2011

To Cuss or Not to Cuss

A couple of years ago I gave up cussing for Lent. Last year it was bacon (Jesus and Bacon) but this year I’m revisiting cussing. It worked two years ago and made me more aware of my words long after Lent had blessedly come and gone. But those little words have pushed themselves out again, and the sacrificial symbolism Lent provides is the perfect motivation for me to rein them back in.

This may not seem like much of a sacrifice for a Christian woman, but believe me, for this Christian woman, it is wonderfully difficult.

I curse like a sailor. Always have.

It started in high school in hopes that it might bump up my coolness quotient, which admittedly was in need of some major elevation. But once I started, I began finding beauty in a perfectly placed cuss. It became like an art form for me; using an ordinary cuss in an uncommon way became fun and made people laugh and, darn it, just felt good sometimes.

I also love words and enjoy peppering my writing and speaking with good examples of such. Unfortunately, some of my favorites are not, shall we say, proper for use in certain company or situations.

As I rediscovered my faith years ago and, later, became a mother, I began noticing others’ and my own language more and more. And though I have attempted many times to hold my tongue in whatever company I may be; old habits die hard. And this one just keeps resurfacing like a movie monster’s inexplicable and inevitable resurgence (see Friday the 13th parts 1-12).

Part of me has always thought that the fact that I cuss and am Christian made me more accessible to my non-Christian friends. I figured they could see that you don’t have to be seemingly perfect to love Jesus and to believe in God. That he loves each of us, faults and all, just like we love our kids…even when they cuss like sailors. And I still hold onto that belief to an extent.

On the other hand, I also think that people who know me, but don’t know me well, might hear how I speak on any given day (especially if it’s a stressful one) and be surprised to find out that I’m a Christian. And that’s not cool either.

Let’s face it. I cannot be bubbling over with joy every moment of every day; I wouldn’t want to be that way because it would be phony and just plain annoying. And though I am normally a joyful person and believe that is what often draws people to me, I also know I need to be more careful with my words, especially because I have the responsibility of representing Christian-kind to many people in my life.

Like everything else in life, I suppose there is a balance to be found here. I honestly don’t feel the need to extricate every last cuss word from my vocabulary for the whole of my existence. But maybe the hard-core kind. Maybe the more cutting kind. And giving all of them up for Lent (as a hugely disproportionate shout-out to Jesus for everything he gave up for me) is the perfect way to give weight to every one of those words so, later on, I can intelligently and spiritually strike the proper balance with them in my life.

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