Me and My Dirty Mouth

Apr 7, 2010

In keeping with this week’s theme, here’s a glimpse of one of my less glorious moments. A Sunday morning exchange in the church foyer with a fellow churchgoer:


Me: “Hey! How are you?” (squeals and hugs exchanged)

Her: “Hi! I’m good! It’s been a busy week. The kids are out of school so we did fun stuff. How about you? What are you up to?”

Me: “Not much new. Boys are doing well, growing up too fast. I’m still writing as much as I can when not doing family stuff.”

Her: “Wow. That’s great. Are you enjoying it?”

Me: “Enjoying it? Hmmm … Yes and no. Half the time I feel like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”

(A look of shocked disbelief clouds her face followed closely by the look of horror crossing my own. I’d just said H-E-double-hockey-sticks in the foyer of my, ahem, CHURCH. While speaking with a Bible study leader.)

Me: “Oh, my gosh. Did I just say that?”

Her: “Yes. You did.” (She shifts uncomfortably in her Sunday morning finery.)

Me: “I’m so sorry. I don’t usually talk like that. I don’t know where that came from.”

(Only I do. Know where that came from. From the dark, sinister place in which lonely mothers-slash-writers dwell, causing the unleashing of untamed demons without warning.)

Her: (laughs nervously)

Me: “Again, I’m sorry. Maybe I just had a stroke.”


This humiliation took place at least three years ago. THREE. And I’m still thinking about it. In part a result of my embarrassment, in part a result of her response. I doubt I would’ve been nearly as embarrassed if she hadn’t disapproved.

But do you know what bothers me the most? The fact that I can clearly recall this one time I said an inappropriate “hell” in church, but I’m less likely to revisit and stew over the many times I’ve been critical, refused to offer words of forgiveness, or spewed a stream of negativity about whatever happened to be irking me at the moment.

My conclusion?

I’ve narrowed Ephesians 4:29, Ephesians 5:4 and Colossians 4:6 down to a narrow pinpoint of legalism and have clearly missed the point.

Honoring God and others with my speech is so much more than avoiding a few choice words.

Do you ever wonder if we’re making too big of a deal of some things, and not a big enough deal of others?

(pic courtesy of omironia, stock.xchng)


  1. alece

    i gotta admit, the story made me burst out laughing.

    and i totally do the same thing — make a big deal out of the wrong things… (which, i think, even describes the woman's response to you.)

    i tend to cling to the wrong memories, finding it easier to recall certain sins over others. i also tend to remember times i've failed way more than times i've succeeded.

    • Michele Cushatt

      Glad my horror is your humor. 🙂

      I tend play all my failures over and over again, like a movie I've watched a thousand times and keep coming back to. Like some kind of sick addiction to self-loathing. Ridiculous. Can't imagine God enjoys me beating myself up anymore than I would enjoy my children doing the same. Huh … it's making a huge deal of mistakes, and not nearly a big enough deal of the love/grace of God.

      • alece

        that's exactly what i do.

        which means i'm basically telling God that i'm gonna punish myself since clearly His grace and forgiveness arent enough for me.


  2. Danica

    Yeah, I think you and I are friends for a reason… I do a lot of that stuff too. The bad words (and mine are still present day) and the icky feeling of being judged for it. Then beating myself up for it for years afterward. I'm still in self-flagellation mode over saying something really dumb in an editor pitch one time. And for about a million other things that slip out of mouth at the wrong time.

    I agree about us making the big deal over little things like a slipped hell and not making a big deal over other things we might say, like the times when we make others feel small with our careless words. Ironically, I have to wonder if the woman's response was just as bad, if not worse, than your slip. I say that not so much in judgment of her, but in looking at my own life and who I tend to be- am I the person who makes others feel comfortable in the midst of their gaffes or am I the one who leaves them beating themselves up for years afterward?

    I hope, someday, I can be the latter.

    • Michele Cushatt

      What a great question! "Am I the person who makes others feel comfortable in their gaffes …?" I want to be! I'm not talking about laughing off an offensive joke or comment, but allowing people to be human, and loving them all the more for it.

  3. @melissacaddell

    Amen, sistah! And I love that question about making others feel comfortable in their gaffes. There's that fancy church word for that: grace. 🙂

    • Michele Cushatt

      Isn't it a beautiful word? Funny how well we throw it around, but it's something entirely different to offer it.

  4. Jan Parrish

    I would like to think that woman also remembers this same scenario as the time she behaved ungraciously. Who knows?

    I also think you've exorcised this demon enough to release it and give others some food for thought. Great post.

    • Michele Cushatt

      She wasn't rude at all, just shocked, silent and uncomfortable. And yes, I agree. Time to forgive myself and move on to the other things that need attention.

  5. Jerolyn

    Great post Michele. God must be trying to teach you the same thing He seems to be teaching me. We have our focus on the wrong thing(s)

    • Michele Cushatt

      Makes me wish I could have a re-do on my parenting!

  6. mandythompson

    I think we should make a big deal out of both the big and the little. They both come from the same place: The heart. And out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks… I think we should watch all our speech, the gossiping stuff, the critical stuff, the profanity (meaning: harsh/sloppy/irreverent/worldly everyday language), the imagery, the jokes… all of it. It's not just about the words we're using, but what we're actually saying. Do we stop to think what we're actually saying? most often, not…

    I have a bad habit of making jokes using bible references. Drew, my VERY wise and very cautious husband, isn't a fan – he says we should tread more carefully when speaking of the scripture. The word of God. Honestly, when I stop long enough to think about it, he's probably right. I should be much more respectful of the words that GOD said.

    • Michele Cushatt

      "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks …" I've thought of this verse repeatedly as of late. I think about my responses to stress, the words I say when frustrated or overwhelmed or weary. It is those moments when I'm less restrained that I see the overflow, I think. And then I wonder at the sorry state of my heart.


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