Monday, May 31, 2010

Life after Cursing

My last blog featured the first written curse word I've ever used. I have yet to cross the oral threshold, but I can imagine it now. Until yesterday I've used substitutes. Words that are essentially as crass but marginally acceptable in Christian subculture.

Using an actual swear word unnerved me. I worried for hours before and after posting that blog. My clean mouth has been an arbitrary point of pride and legalism for me. I might do a thousand evil deeds, but I'm holy because I've never cussed. My pride told me I was more intelligent because I could communicate without swearing. My legalism told me that God liked me more because I NEVER said THOSE words.

Lies. My mouth was as filthy as a drainpipe. An art form of crude euphemisms and brazen hypocrisy. The innuendo and imagery you can create with a K-LOVE approved vocabulary is astounding.

But it doesn't change the fact that there's still a barrier there for me. I'm convinced that with one word I could lose the approval of everyone I esteem. Chalk it up to the irrational mind of a guy who never figured himself out, but merely chased the mirage of acceptance based on achievement. A blunt friend of mine said, "You're an empty person, not even a person, but a mere collection of other people's wishes for you". It hurt at the time, but upon further reflection he's exactly right.

My primary goal in life has forever been the approval of others. Conveniently the path to approval in my life has always been a spiritual path. Had I grown up on the streets of New York City I have no doubt that I'd be entrenched in gang violence with the singular goal of being esteemed by my respective community. It leads me to wonder if I even have a relationship with God, or if it too is a false edifice built only while people are watching.

That's why blogging is becoming remarkably therapeutic for me. I'm letting the ugliness of my heart out and forcing myself not to fret about other people's reactions. It's hard work for me not to obsess about what people are thinking when they read these entries. I consistently have to remind myself that my current writing is for my own healing and growth. It's teaching me to appreciate people's feedback without craving it. It's liberating me to be offensive. To say the wrong thing so that eventually, if and when I decide to say the right thing it will be because I am connecting with God, not chasing men.

I'm not pursuing rebellion and I'm not writing for shock value, I'm merely trying to discover who I really am. In time I'll hopefully develop a set of values based on actual conviction rather than bland assumption. And perhaps eventually I'll grow to believe that there is life after cursing.


  1. Are you sick of me being your first commenter yet? Just had to say that I was proud of your swear word :) Hope I can be around to hear your jump to full-on oral swearing!
    I am only half joking, because I understand with my whole self what you're talking about. "Letting the ugliness of my heart out and forcing myself not to fret about other people's reactions".
    I want to be just like you when I grow up.

  2. Hey Matt,
    I came across your blog through Facebook and it's really fascinating to read. I, like you, have been on a journey from legalism to realness. I can so relate to a lot of what you write. It's obvious God is doing something hard, real, and raw in your life. He's making you into who He always had in mind for you to be. It's so sad to me that we can get caught up and literally swallowed by Christian sub-culture. When the bottom line is "Love God, Love people." We make it super complicated with all our "rules" but seriously, I'm glad there are those of us who are learning to get over ourselves and just be people who are Christians, not Christian people.

  3. Hey Matt.

    I appreciate your honesty and raw approach to your blog. And by the way, I've been know to let a few slip out now and again - it's usually 3am when my kids won't sleep for the 100th night in a row and my dear hubby is usually the recipient - poor guy. But he still loves me:)

    I think you'll be surprised how many people can relate to your writing. We are all on a journey toward greater freedom and wholeness. No one is beyond failure be it public or private. And no one is beyond redemption. Do not let the enemy of your soul take from you the deposit that Christ has placed within you. It is full of life, power and the strength to overcome. Keep pressing on!

  4. Matt,
    So many of us were brought to Christ with the "supposed to do this" and the "not supposed to do that" Christianity. I think we actually should be searching for that place where we can look in His eyes and follow Him - sort of like my children do when we are separated from voice contact so they look at my eyes and can tell immediately what I'm saying (for direction, good or bad!) Look for His eyes Matt, everything else is disposable.
    Just a few of my immediate thoughts!

  5. Blogging is so good for letting it all out! I have been blogging since 2004, and it's been a safe place for me, albeit in the eyes of others, to learn about myself.

    To receive feedback, but that's not the point. To find my voice, to learn what it sounds like, and to LOVE it. And surprisingly, more people have been drawn to Christ, not "in spite of" me letting it all hang out, for good or bad, but BECAUSE of it.

    I've learned to embrace who I am, swearwords and all (and I like writing them better than saying them, doesn't feel as naughty :P) It has been an amazing and healing way to work through my grief, and doing so openly and for real, has connected me with a lot of people. I think people see, understand and relate to realness. That's what I look for in a blog. Not christianese, not this perfect imagery of a perfect life, but just RAW, in whatever form that is, people living life, being open, sharing, caring.


  6. Dude,

    You are but a man! If you rally want to cause trouble...count how many songs on K-Love (since you brought it up) are really "worship" songs....


  7. I think a great deal of our time is spent worrying about pleasing others. As I get older I've started to realize it's about pleasing God and only God. That may sound obvious and trite but it's taken me a looooong time to figure that out.

  8. Aah yes, the slippery slope of cussing.. I agree that it's not so much the words that hold the sting- these can be culturally acceptable or unacceptable at any given time-but rather the intentions of the words. I've cussed people out before without using a single "cuss" word, but the damage was the same. And when I actually would cuss, I found that it was an extremely difficult habit to break, because my heart carried the meaning behind those words. Bottom line, which it seems as though you've already figured out, is that it's a heart condition. Whatever is in there will find some way to surface, no matter the vocabulary.

  9. So you might not know me but I do know you from Elim. MY best friend Lisa told me she was reading your blog and I decided tonight to check it out.
    I so wish I could say that I've never cursed. My mouth is worse than a sailor who has been out to sea for a yr. Its bad. However, God still listens to me even though my mouth isnt the most inspiring. He loves me, and I have a distinct feeling he feels the same about you.

  10. "Had I grown up on the streets of New York City I have no doubt that I'd be entrenched in gang violence with the singular goal of being esteemed by my respective community

    Very real. What would our churches and our communities look like if everyone came to this realization? This is why I can barely walk into a church.