“The Fourth Grade Cussing Club…” I don’t know how it really started, except that one day on the playground, I suddenly found myself a part of it…and you just had to say bad words to belong. Patti was the ringleader. I didn’t even like her; she was a self-proclaimed atheist. “I don’t believe in God,” she proudly said, with her nose in the air. But I did. I believed in God, and I believed in Jesus, and I loved them.
Somehow the ugly word came out of my mouth. I didn’t even know why. I wasn’t worried about fitting in. I had plenty of friends. Why was I even hanging around with her? But there we stood in a circle, taking turns saying words one finds painted onto cement overpasses and etched into the backs of dull gray metal bathroom doors.
A week later, I quit. I firmly took a stand. I told Patti I didn’t want to be in her stupid club, especially when the worst part of it all was that she didn’t believe in God. My nine-year-old self knew it was wrong; how she was trying to convince our joint friends about why God didn’t exist. I walked away, and the club immediately melted and dissolved into sheer nothingness.
But Patti wasn’t happy. I’d hit a nerve. At a sleepover, I awoke to her gossiping about me to two other girls. Pretending to be asleep, my ears burned, hoping that sweet Cathy wouldn’t turn against me. It was her house. Cathy didn’t talk about me, but she didn’t really stick up for me either. Patti was pretty intimidating. It felt strange and scary, lying there under the covers, not moving. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t know what to do.
Sadly, it was only a sneak peek of how people will mistreat you when you stand with your Savior. It was also a glimpse of how people are unwilling, or afraid, to stand up with you, or for you when you make a stand for what’s right and true. After all, Cathy was a believer too. Yet, how joyful it was, that I already knew Jesus at such a young age, and that he had given me the strength to break away from the sin and the peer pressure!
I didn’t cuss again until 8th grade. I’d moved all the way from Texas to Alaska, and was starting over…again. Swearing seemed the cool thing to do, but it wasn’t necessary; the kids liked me just as I was. I was a good girl, and a smart girl. Good grades came easily; excellent grades came with a little effort. But I began to let things slide, and then I’d brag about only getting a B or C, like the kids who announced they had failed a test, so I wouldn’t look “nerdy” for being intelligent. At home I wasn’t praised for being good or smart, so it just seemed right to swear with my friends who accepted and liked me.
I was fitting in well. Boys gave me their jackets to wear, and my girlfriends copied my purple eye shadow. My spot was reserved on the bus. No one “called me out” to fight me. My popularity grew and my bad mouth did too. Life away from home was good. But my spiritual life was not. I went to church youth group. I even brought my girlfriends with me. But I wasn’t getting the same teachings at home. I was on my own. The lies crept in, and little pieces of myself began to disappear, as sin took its place.
The cussing continued. I found dirty jokes to be funny, instead of being offended by them. It became normal to drop a curse word if I stubbed my toe. Enemies were called bad names. Sometimes friends were too…after all, we were “just joking.” In reality, I was never really comfortable with crude humor, and it began to disgust me as I got older.
However, the cussing remained throughout my high school, college, teacher and mommy years. I prayed for God to take it away. I could control it in public, but felt relaxed at home, where words would slip out in front of my family when I was angry, scared, frustrated, or surprised. My beautiful children learned the words. I tried to be careful, but apparently wasn’t careful enough. My lovely daughter, on occasion, has gently said with love, “Mommy, don’t say that.” Without judgment, she’s followed it with an affectionate pat on my back. They’ve all given me grace, this family whom I cherish, love, and adore. They understand that childhood trauma has contributed to my stronghold. So they pray for me, and I pray for them. We forgive each other, and we hold each other up when we fall.
There was a time when I would have said I’m ashamed to be a “sailor mama.” But shame comes from the devil, and I’m a child of God. I’m loved in spite of my sin. I’m washed clean in the blood of the lamb. It won’t be held against me, but I want to battle it, because it’s not of God.
While discussing a ministry opportunity with my wise pastor, he told me that uncontrollable cussing can have roots of unforgiveness. Though we were discussing how I could help someone else, it caused me to wonder how I could still struggle with cussing, especially if I’ve pursued Christ and forgiven, in Jesus’ name, the very people in my life who abused, neglected, lied about, and abandoned me. Though the necessary boundaries have been established, I continuously must forgive, and have done it over and over again, many times.
My pastor answered my question by adding that a cussing stronghold can also remain because of unresolved anger and pain; that there is more to it. This made more sense to me, especially because God helps me to control my mouth. After praying, and thinking about it some more, I told him I thought that rejection, abandonment, and abuse cause us to wrestle with fear, anger, and depression. The pain these spirits create, can cause a cussing stronghold. (A stronghold is a sin which has a strong, firm grip on you, and does not want to let go, even when you try to the right thing. Jesus is mighty to conquer strongholds.)
He told me I was on the right track, so when we spoke again, I told him I understood that all of these spiritual issues are intwined, causing great pain. Essentially, each needs to be dealt with, and forgiven, as it is revealed, so that we can be set free. When my pastor validated my thoughts, I was excited to realize God had been answering my questions and helping me to understand the entire relationship surrounding these spiritual issues. We have to seek Jesus for healing and for true freedom. Everything comes down to the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ, for salvation can only come through God’s Son.
We need to ask God why we are struggling with a cussing stronghold. We may need to forgive someone in the name of Jesus. We may have already forgiven, but there might be unresolved pain from childhood, which we may not even be aware we are carrying. We may have an everyday situation we are dealing with at home or on the job in the workplace. Whichever it is, we are not meant to battle it alone. God promises to go before us.
I constantly battle pain from the past, but because of forgiveness with boundaries, and the healing that only comes from Jesus, that ball of pain is getting smaller and smaller. I can feel God shrinking it, so that it doesn’t affect me the way it once did when the lies come blasting my way. It doesn’t mean it’s resolved, but it does mean that God has me covered because He knows the truth, and I know it too: He loves me, and I am His!
Even though my stronghold is based in past pain, I have forgiven much, just as Jesus has forgiven me. So I had to be honest and ask myself, am I presently harboring any unforgiveness? Then…it dawned on me. The person I need to forgive the most lives in my own house: my husband, who’s a bit of a sailor himself. Who else would a sailor mama need to forgive on a daily basis? Her children? Maybe for some; definitely for some. But for me, it’s easy to forgive my children; they are young and so precious. It’s much more difficult to forgive my husband, young in his brokenness, yet also precious in God’s sight. And of course, I love him, and God loves him even more! Don’t we need to forgive our husbands and wives for the little things that build up day after day, while also forgiving each other for the bigger, and more painful things that people struggle with throughout their marriages. Yes, yes we do.
I know my husband constantly needs to forgive me too. His childhood was no picnic either. We both have baggage. But the silver lining is that my husband and I are works in progress. We are saved by grace. Both of us are children of God, washed white as snow in the blood of the lamb. As we grow in Christ and forgive each other more quickly, the anger will wash away, and the bad words will wash away too. As an added benefit, our children are sanctified, and will struggle less with the strongholds that we overcome together.
Do you have a sailor mouth? Take heart! Don’t let it define you. Pursue God, ask Him to heal you of your pain, so your anger will dissolve, just as the cussing club melted away back in the fourth grade. Forgive your enemies, and especially forgive your loves ones in the name of Jesus. In doing do, don’t forget to forgive yourself. “What can take away your sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus” (author of hymn: Robert Lowry).
“Nor should there by obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
New International Version
Please take away my pain, and in its place, fill me with your Holy Spirit and the peace which comes from your healing. Help me to forgive others in your name, just as you have forgiven me for all of my sins. Thank you for loving me, and for taking my place on the cross, so I can live in Heaven with you forever!
I love you!