Lent has begun. Lent is the liturgical season of the 40 days leading up to the Resurrection of the Lord. It is a somber time of almsgiving, penance, and prayer. And, for the first time, we are experiencing Lent as a family.
It is traditional to 'give up' something for Lent as a sacrifice and penance. A lot of people give up Starbucks or soda or chocolate, stuff like that. Those things are hard, yes, but since moving to Mexico, we've already given those things up in our daily lives. This year, as a family, we're going to give up swearing. This is obviously something that is mostly a Hector and I thing, but the kids are going to be responsible for what comes out of their mouths, too. They need to not be screaming at each other, tattling, or calling each other names. Hector and I however, sound like sailors.
I've always had a bit of a rough mouth on me, and I know it's not dignified for a lady to use four-lettered words, but I picked up the habit of swearing everywhere, even at work, as a CNA. I think in healthcare jobs, you have to swear a lot because they are so emotional you'd have a break down eventually bottling it all up inside. But it has spilled over into my life and I've begun to realize what I sound like.
The Bible talks about using bad language in many places. In the wisdom books, the reason given is because when you swear, you sound like a fool. And it's very true. When you rely on short, four-letter words, you are limiting your vocabulary. There are many good words in English and Spanish to describe my frustrations.
"Do not accustom your mouth to coarse, foul language, for it involves sinful speech" Sirach 23:13
The New Testament also discusses this matter in terms of being Christ-like.
"It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.
For it of the heart comes evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.
These are what defile a person..." Matthew 15:11, 18-20a
Watching your tongue is being more Christ-like. I really doubt that Jesus yelled an F-bomb at the fig tree he cursed. He was able to get mad and still keep his mouth from sin. When I get frustrated, there are many other things I could say instead. I need to use the extensive vocabulary I have, rather than rely on only a few words of it.
Words have an effect on the people who hear them. Nobody really wants to listen to someone who's every other words is a swear word. They aren't going to take the speaker seriously. They get brought down when someone speaks like that; it's miserable to listen to.
"Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those that hear." Ephesians 4:29
To combat our swearing problem, we're using a swear jar. The money collected in our swear jar will be donated to a Catholic charity here in Tijuana. I don't know how well this is going to work, but with God's grace we will succeed in being better Christians.