Blogger Amy has taken up the challenge of giving up ‘Bad words’ this Lent. She tells us how she is getting on and what this challenge is teaching her.
I have now done just over four weeks of my Lent challenge and I have been surprised and amazed each day by my journey so far. I am so humbled by how God has met me in this time. Each week I have learned something new and been pointed in a new direction. Even in the difficult moments it has still been a joy to experience. I love the fact that God is graciously taking the time to change me. Change is hard and discipline is even harder. However, I truly think that when God disciplines us this is an expression of love and affection.
Not just bad language
The thing that initially helped me get off to the right start with this challenge was a simple phrase. When CAFOD put up a tweet about my challenge they referred to it as giving up “bad language”. I had been referring to it as “swearing”. “Bad language” and “swearing” are the same thing except that “bad language” refers to a much wider range of words. This instantly got me thinking and reflecting.
This was another moment when God led me that little bit deeper and showed me something I honestly did not really want to see. My language is “bad” a lot of the time. This is something I know and it is something I choose to ignore. In the busyness of the day, in the rushing around after the kids, in the exhaustion of being a mum, I had allowed my language to become short and sharp. It was also often filled with impatience and negativity. My husband had previously mentioned it and I had batted the comment away. It just seemed too hard a task to deal with. Yet it is much harder to bat it away when it is God who is mentioning to you!
So how to tackle this new, bigger and more in depth examination of myself? The bible. It has been my sword and my shield during this time and I do not know what I would have done without it. After the first week I sat down and wrote out a bible verse in my diary for each day of Lent. Sometimes I wrote two verses, all about our words. I was completely blown away by how many of these verses there are in the bible. This really made me take stock.
Your Lent challenge: Could you give up swearing, unkind thoughts or even complaining? Order a CAFOD collection box and make a contribution every time you slip up.
Kind, loving and encouraging words
God has also shown me during this time that it is not just about getting rid of bad language. It is also about what we are going to replace that bad language with. The answer to me has been very clear. Not only kind and loving words, but words that encourage one another and build us up.
To begin with this felt weighty and burdensome as it is such a hard thing to do all the time. Yet God asks it of us. One day I was reminded of the verse, “your words are like honey on my lips”. I suddenly realised that if God’s words are honey to us, then we can pass His words on to others and bless them with this same honey. To me that is a joyful and privileged opportunity, rather than burdensome or heavy. He has also taught me to take my time and patience has been key. When I can feel that sharp word itching to leap out of my mouth I take a deep breath and whisper “please help me” to myself. In that moment it suddenly becomes easier and it is a moment I have begun to rely upon.
Will I continue my challenge after Lent?
The long and short of it is that I will not be taking back up my bad language or swearing at the end of Lent! God showed me an area of my life that needed cleansing and refining. It has not been easy and I have not yet conquered it (and I may never completely) but I need to keep letting God do His work.
In fact I am considering setting myself a new 40 day challenge after Easter day. Getting into a cycle where I continue to let God keep on casting His light into my dark places and setting them free. I don’t know whether this will be related to language still. Perhaps God will show me something new that needs working on. I will just allow Him to lead me to the end of Lent and see what He has to show me.
Donate to CAFOD’s Lent Appeal today. Donations towards our Lent appeal between Shrove Tuesday 13 February and Saturday 12 May will be doubled by the UK Government, up to £5 million, making double the difference.