The most recent post from the Real Live Preacher reminded me that I have some 'splainin to do. I have thought about this incident quite a bit over the past year and a half, so I thought I'd share it with you. Please know that while I will point out some differences with a certain person (who will remain anonymous in this post,) and probably with several of you, I sincerely mean no disrespect. I've wanted to write this for some time, but also have felt it necessary to have a bit of time between said incident and the time I share it in order to provide that most precious of commodities-- perspective. Now, on to the business at hand.
About a year and a half ago I wrote a post welcoming some ETBU alumni who had discovered my blog through the ETBU alumni message board. (If you are not easily offended, you are more than welcome to read it HERE.) I expected a few people to read it, but I had no idea it would start off a controversy within the ETBU administration. But one person got a hold of it who passed it on to another person, who just happened to be a former employer of mine, who was shocked and started off an email exchanged that got pretty heated. In this person's initial email was the statement "If this is your attempt at authenticity I find it will in the end yield much different results than you desire. The language is not refreshing, it is appalling and so beneath your intellect and does not speak of intimacy with Christ but with the world." It went on further to say that, should I choose not to see the error in my ways, I could forget about receiving any future ministry endorsements from this person.
I reacted poorly. I replied with a long explanatory email that culminated in labeling this particular person and adjective that begins with "ass" and ends with "hole." I had no problem with this person being offended. I should have known my post would have offended people, (even though I believed the humor in the "women in ministy" comment would be considered funny enough to take some of the edge off.) What upset me so much was this person questioning my relationship with Christ based on a few words that are considered by most to be profane.
2003 was a very rough year for me. Probably the worst in my life. My short lived career in teaching ended in what I consider a failure. The two people I had been living with decided to move out, forcing a couple of months of uncertainty, culminating with me living with a friend who had far too many emotional issues for me to deal with and two other guys who were 23 year old teenagers (aka, youth ministers,) who thought it was ok to play video games late at night with the bass cranked up as high as it would go, and not pay the rent on time. I took on two stressful part time jobs and tried my hand at seminary, being forced out because I was unlucky in the high stakes game of financial aid. There were people close to me that I felt estranged from for the previous couple of years. I was living an unhealthy lifestyle, drinking too much and eating my way fron an already unhealthy 260 lbs. to an even worse 285. In early November my beloved grandmother passed away, causing the worse emotional stress of my life. In fact, I can only think of three good things that happened the entire year: meeting my good friend Tim, Jude and Sutton being born, and Jason and Christy's wedding, which in many ways was the catylist in redeeming the sham that I found my life in.
I blogged about it all: my frustrations, my fears, my grief. I talked about God and his people and how I was trying to figure Him out after all my presuppostions were torn to the ground. As I read my blog from that year I see a modern day Psalms (though not written nearly as well or with the obvious Inspiration.) I was mad at God, I loved God. I was sick of my sin, but I also was justifying my sin. The whole gamut of emotions was written down. For years I felt that everyone thought I was perfect, no rough edges. But I knew different. The tone of my language during those times was meant to express on the outside what I was feeling on the inside-- all of it, the good and bad.
Then someone who I respected (and still do, in many ways) read around news of my grandmother's death and my rough years and my honesty with God and found the post laden with profanity and questioned my character based on that and that alone.
-- As stated earlier, I reacted extremely poorly. I knew this person. I knew how this person thought. I should have known that no harm was meant and that the initial goal of the email was to express a genuine Christian concern. I was a 29 year old acting like a 12 year old who was just scolded by his parents. I responded to what I felt was an attack with another attack, something that I cognitively know is never helpful.
-- Although I was initially angry, and stayed that way for the better part of a year, I think the incident actually helped me think about, and be more concerned about, the way I come across. If you've been with my blog from the beginning, you can definitely see a change in how I write. I don't regret that period of my life and the use of profanity, because that was who I was. I do regret my refusal to see things from another perspective.
-- My blog has increasingly become, for the most part, free of profanity, but I haven't really changed what I feel about it. If I stub my toe or make a terrible mistake at work, the word I verbalize after "Oh," generally isn't "No!" I rarely use the derivitaves "Durn, freaking, or biscuit eater," opting instead to verbalize the words in their original form. I truly don't feel this is indicative of an immature Christian, (I have much worse attitudes that serve this purpose better than using cuss words.) Language changes and the small fraction of my vocabulary that is conidered profane by some is not meant to damn or to literally curse, but to express strong emotions.
-- Considering Paul's admonition to refrain from doing anything that would offend your weaker brother or sister. The funny thing about this argument is that it is usually not the people we consider "weaker" brothers and sisters who are offended by the occasional curse word, but rather the people we are supposed to believe are spiritual giants.
I really have nothing left to say about this. I'll keep being me. I'll keep changing. Someday my life won't be as good as it is now and I'll respond by allowing me outside to look just like my inside-- ugly. But I will try to be more respectful. After all, Avery is four and in a couple of years will be reading and I don't want her to ask me how to pronounce that word that starts with an "F."