glorify week 14

words matter

Taken from a Christmas Story. Reginald Morris 1983.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist town located smack in the middle of a dry county. Everyone went to church. As far as I can recall, I didn’t meet an atheist until I went to college.

It was a little like the town from the movie Footloose, except without Kevin Bacon and farming. There was a heavy amount of agriculture, but mostly outside the city limits where the county kids went to school.

Inside the city limits was very different. Girls loved Jesus, America, their boyfriends and fake Coach purses (Louis Vuitton was not yet a thing but it definitely is now). People dressed to the nines in brand name clothes and everyone somehow knew everything you did.

When I was a young kid, my family was looked down upon by most of the social elite in our community. I remember my date to the eighth grade homecoming dance had to lie to his parents because he wasn’t allowed to take me. He did somehow manage to sneak and get me a corsage.

It hurt, a lot, and was hard to understand. Especially since I had personally done nothing to deserve a covert homecoming operation. Why was I persona non grata?

Maybe it because we owned a bowling alley and a flea market which means we rubbed elbows with the most colorful characters in our community. Perhaps it was because we didn’t go to church regularly since our family business thrived on weekends.

I suppose it could have also been those occasional trips my parents made across the county line to have a pizza and a few beers at Otter Creek Tavern (where we bumped into more than one church deacon). Or my family’s propensity to race and also gamble on the ponies.

But I think it was most likely due to the (true) rumors about the back room card games that happened at the alley after all the no-drinking-no-dancing-goodie-two-shoes were fast asleep.

Before I was old enough to understand any of this, it all changed. The race horses were sold. The card games stopped. We started going to church regularly. I can confidently say my Homecoming date’s parents would proudly allow their grandchildren to date any of the Taylor grand babies today.

We cleaned up our act. I still have a mouthful of fillings from unlimited access to fountain pop at the concession stand. However, one additional vestige of my time among the gypsies and the outcasts of our town remains.

My potty mouth.

Those bowlers and flea market regulars didn’t always deserve the reputations they had. For the most part they were good people, who while different than the professionals in our community, I am honored to have grown to know and love. Many of them were like family. It was a special upbringing. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

However a lot of them had foul mouths and as result my filter is just a bit different than your average Southern Belle’s. I struggle mightily with swearing.

For many years I used this upbringing as an excuse not to change my behavior. I would also rationalize it as something I couldn’t imagine God caring about if he truly understood my heart.

But once again, God is working to change me and to make me more like Christ. I know he wants to wash my mouth out with Lifebouy like Ralphie’s Mom in A Christmas Story. So I am working hard, day by day to make the change. And now with this post I have all of you to help me and hold me accountable.

Scripture is crystal clear on the importance of words. Not only should they be free from that special four letter variety, they should encourage and love. There is great power in our tongue and I am committed to working to be kinder, calmer, quieter, and cleaner as I seek to honor him.

“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.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:29‬ ‭NIV‬‬

How about you? Where is God showing you a need to adjust your filter based on habits you learned from the world?

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