October 14, 2018
The F-bomb Theory
I met my husband, Mike, when I was 15 and he was 17. He has always been a gentleman since the day I met him, though I know it began long before. Not long after we started dating I happened to walk into the middle of a huddle of hormonal teenage boys laughing it up near the locker rooms at our high school gym. My husband is hilarious and was the cause of the laughter. He didn’t know I was present. When I heard his words he I was completely shocked. His comments included several f-bombs and I turned red from head to toe. When he became aware I was there the color drained from his face. I quietly dismissed myself. He quickly came after me and deeply apologized for his words and behavior, that he was just being an idiot in front of his friends. My husband grew up a little on that day, recognizing a need for an increase in his character and word choices. I was deeply touched by that, after the initial shock of it all.
I was his first girlfriend. He was my first serious boyfriend. I’m grateful. He quickly developed actions and a vocabulary that were honoring and I never again heard such language out of him in the 39 years I have known him. He learned to honor those around him. I was impressed with his disciplined choices and he was only 17.
To explain my history it was extremely rare, almost non-existent to hear a swear word cross my lips. I simply believed there were better words to communicate with. I’m a communicator. Words are simply tools to me. I like to challenge my intellect and attempt to raise my IQ every chance I get. I personally believe that authentic communication with my Creator is a form of worship and reverence. Surrender and full exposure (as if He couldn’t already see our inner words and works) is vulnerable and trusting. We offer it to Him and what we get in return is a deeper understanding of His heart toward us. Authenticity is for us, not for Him.
This pattern continued through the raising of our five children. Our oldest son moved into his own place when he was 18. One evening he came to visit and enthusiastically shared with his younger siblings that the word “butt” was not a swear word. We nervously laughed at the realization of the stern boundaries we had set for our children, relaxing them a bit since our youngest was ten at that time.
These silly factoids are simply to preface the fifty-plus years of pattern that was interrupted by the death of our daughter. Finding words to describe grief and the death of my daughter is beyond me, though I continue to search for paths that would communicate such pain, not to educate but for connection. I’m not yet convinced one can be educated by the world to get through grief. But just as a mountain climber can complete his task much easier with certain tools and skills attached to his belt I hope to equip those after me with a tool or two that would aid them in their ascent from the depths of grief.
In my greatest effort to grieve well I allowed myself the freedom to cry when I felt like crying, to laugh when wonderful memories surfaced etc. Swearing became a part of that, yes- even the occasional F-bomb. I know. It still shocks me too. It really shocked my husband who encouraged me to not use such words, which provoked an increase in its usage. I believe I came to the end of my emotional intellect. My IQ simply is not high enough to process the intense level of pain and emotion that came with the death of our daughter. We spent 18 years of our lives raising her, teaching her, even schooling her at home for the first twelve years of her education, then the following three years enjoying her and her husband as adults. We were very close. What my husband learned at the age of 17, an increase in character and word choices to honor others, I had to learn in my early fifties. I had to learn a new discipline that was never in my peripheral, how to NOT use the F-bomb in a culture where it’s unacceptable. On the same note, diffusing the toxicity of a word-tool that helped me cross a threshold, not of maturity (though it could be deemed so. At the same time it could be deemed an equal digression in maturity) but of man-made boundaries, of religious hand cuffs and many more descriptions of imprisonments of the mind and spirit. If you haven’t figured it out, this article is about much more than F-bombs.
I picture standing on the roof of a three story building and dropping an over filled water balloon. There was something very satisfying to it. I know what it was. On the rare occasions that an F-bomb crossed my lips my husband (who is the only person that ever heard me say it) took his understanding up a level. He knows me so well that he knew I was at the end of my emotional intellect, the end of my emotional and mental IQ. There were no words to explain the ache of my heart. He was very familiar with this pain and his grace increased in those moments. Selah: (let’s pause and take a moment) If my husband can stir up this grace just imagine what The Father can do! I am extremely grateful for my husband’s patient efforts to increase his emotional intellect when mine was depleted. I probably depended on this more than I should have but in the end it has amazed me what he has brought to the table in our marriage. Hardship has a way of picking us up when we aren’t even aware and setting us in higher places. Mike is a different man that he was before the death of our daughter. I’m a different woman too but Mike has permission to lead me anywhere and I would follow. I am over the moon in love with him.
The first Scripture that comes to mind in regards to swearing or The first Scripture I used as ammunition toward my children about swearing is “Let no unwholesome talk come from your mouth”. I will let you look that up and study it but I would be willing to bet that the Greek word that was translated to “unwholesome” is not as we take it today. I would research that for you but I’m typing this as I lay in bed in my stateroom on a cruise ship. I don’t have internet or my Strong’s Concordance next me. There is something very “wholesome” yes, WHOLE-some, where character is GAINED by using authentic words. I will share the following story that Holy Spirit brought back to me as I was writing this to remind me of the Father’s heart toward me, toward you.
I was sitting in the waiting area of a minor emergency clinic with Patrick, our third son. (we had three boys then two girls.) He has always been very verbal and a great communicator. He was four years old and sitting on the floor playing with some toys. There were 3-4 other moms in the small, crowded waiting room with their children. Patrick was in his own world of imagination, talking to himself while scooting some trucks around on the floor. He was learning how to rhyme. There he went. I could see it coming as he started rhyming words with truck- buck, duck and so on. I had only seconds to prepare myself for the bomb that was about to explode and in those seconds I reminded myself that my son was much more important to me than any other person in the room. I cared about him much more than the judging looks that would come when he got to the letter “f” in the alphabet cycle of his rhyming. The bomb hit and every mothers head swung quickly in unison to see what I was going to do about this unruly child and the nuclear word that just dropped. I could feel my body get warm with embarrassment but it only lasted a second. The truth was that my son was not an unruly child for finding a new word. I chose to be more proud of my son for his new skill of rhyming. Then I jokingly said, “Rhyming is so fun but sometimes it can be a little embarrassing”. All of the moms chuckled and set me free from their judgement, or so it seemed. I told Patrick that he was doing a great job rhyming. If I would have pointed out that he should never speak such a thing again I am certain I would have found him in the bathroom looking in the mirror writing new lyrics to a song that included the repetition of this “off-limits” word in the chorus so it could be repeated as often as possible. That’s just how strong willed he is. I love that about him! He is much like his mother in that respect.
I could have labeled my son as “rebellious” in this moment (which is based in fear and was too common in our household as we raised our children) compared to recognizing his “growth” in the moment. That’s powerful! Dig deep into that thought; especially you young mommies! We all are either planting seeds of death or life! Let’s choose life, ey! (Hey, I’m cruising with a bunch of Canadians. I had to create an opportunity to use one of their cool expressions)
I am not condoning or encouraging the use of profanity. What I am encouraging is authenticity with The Father, with yourself, with your spouse. At the time of this writing our daughter died four years ago this month. Because of the fog that surrounded our hearts and minds through grief it seems like it has only been months since she died. Close to a year ago I began finding new words that could reach the boundaries of my vocabulary and stretch it again. I began replacing the swear words that were a little too handy in the midst of intense emotion. These intense moments remind me of the brick wall in front of the test crash dummy. Do YOU think the test crash dummy dropped an f-bomb or two when he saw that wall quickly approaching? I would argue that the dummy did! : )
It’s been almost a year since I committed to weeding those words out of my vocabulary but just days before this trip a couple slipped out. Okay, they didn’t slip out. I threw them out on purpose. What we have figured out together is when I am in a place that I can find no other word to use, because I am a word guru, I may need a little help in my communications. Mike has picked up on that and upped his game in those moments. His grace has increased exponentially and I have stopped trying to hold in the things I had deemed “off limits” such as strong emotion or anger. I think I am finally through the stage of discipline that my husband chose when he was 17 and receiving the love my son unknowingly learned when he was 4. I feel so grown up right now!
Last week we were driving to Vancouver, BC to board the beautiful ship we are now cruising on and heading for Hawaii. Mike and I were talking about signing up for a marriage conference for some refreshers, to do some maintenance on our marriage. We haven’t been to one since we helped lead Marriage Ministries over twenty years ago.
Here is how our conversation went. I said, “Hey, it would be good to have some healthy marriage reminders, wouldn’t it”? Mike said, “Yes, it probably is a good idea”. I said, “Hey, maybe it would help me to stop dropping F-bombs”. He said (in his very best Mr. Rogers impression), “Well, that would be very nice now, wouldn’t it kids ”. Needless to say, our trip has been filled with laughter at our silly conversations.
Mike and I call this a joyful dysfunction! Hey, we all have dysfunctions! We may as well laugh at them!
Mom, put that bar of soap away! Seriously, Mom, if you’re reading this (and I know you will) put that bar of Ivory away! I’m too old for you to wash my mouth out with soap!
To my grand-kids, don’t you make me get out that bar of soap! : )
So, here is my conclusion; in the religious bowels of our Christian walk we tend to have a scoring system to rate our sin. Adultery is a 10, dropping F-bombs is an 8 or 9. Judging others opposed to loving them where they are at is a 1. I know. I know. I just offended someone. But hey, love me where I’m at, Dude! ; ) I’ll save that topic for another blog or go read someone else’s blog that’s smarter than me in that area.
The point of this statement is not to, Heaven forbid; challenge our current scoring system but possibly to create a whole new scoring system to add to it. We all know that we don’t like to jostle our long time systems that we cuddle up next to like pulling our favorite blanket or pillow up to us when we snuggle down to watch a good movie.
How about creating a new scoring system to measure authenticity, grace and the love of the Father? We may quickly learn that the first scoring system begins to blur a little in comparison to the new one.
Being on this side of my F-bomb season, with spring in the air, I can see such evidence of God’s grace. I can see, just like the day I was sitting in the waiting room with Patrick, when he dropped his first F-bomb. (Disclaimer: I have never heard another one out of his mouth but he is just like you and I. We have all tasted inappropriate words on our tongues). Just as I looked at him with such love toward him, desiring the very best for his life, wealth, growth and development, I believe with every part of me that I have a good Father that is looking upon me and my heart in the same manner except what He offers is an infinite love. He was proudly looking at me and watching me develop a new found authenticity, a decreased fear of man, challenging what is acceptable in our Christian culture (or any culture), the beginning of the sluffing off of a scoring system that I had lived with for too many years. For the sake of curiosity, creativity and the intense love for learning more of His heart, I would venture to say that I don’t even know if I sinned when I dropped those F-bombs! Woah, Woah, Woah, you say!!! Soak this in! I don’t say this with the intention of dodging repentance, quite the contrary. It’s part of my greater effort to accept and receive the love that He offers me, a love that has no boundaries. When we accept this deep, real, tangible, overwhelming love our perspectives changes. Repentance (changing old paths and patterns) is a by-product of accepting and believing what He longs for us to know and live in. This defines Kingdom living and is contagious! So, go look through the Gospels for yourself! Make sure what you are searching for is evidence of how much He adores you! He will ALWAYS reveal Himself to you when you seek Him. ALWAYS!! It’s one of His greatest promises! Step into the pool of intimacy and authenticity that brings freedom and opens the doors to the love of the Father. I promise that it doesn’t have to be the F-bomb door. I certainly would never have expected to grab the handles of that door and fling it wide open, but I did.
Disclaimer: There was no soap or grandchildren harmed in the making of this article.
Second Disclaimer: There was much pain experienced in our lives to be able to write these words but there was much, much more grace from the Father to be able to write past that pain and still walk in joy. I welcome you to join me! His name is Jesus! He is Wisdom! He IS Joy! His love is indescribable and I get to live in it. He offers the same to you!