Series: Always Relevant: God Is…
Ephesians 4:31-32 MSG
Make a clean break with raspy words.
I understand raspy words because I remember being a 13 year old girl.
I remember speaking harsh words and hearing my dad call my name.
Most of the time when I was young I was called Debbie, but when I would speak harsh words at home, my dad would call out, “Deborah…come here please.”
I remember thinking, “oops”.
I remember knowing I’d been busted.
My dad wasn’t the kind of person who yelled at me. I don’t remember his ever shouting at me. I do remember the way he looked at me.
He had half reading glasses and when I would slink into the living room after he called my name he would look at me over his glasses and motion for me to sit down on the couch facing his chair.
He would ask me what was going on…
Then I usually tried to defend my actions and the reason I spoke harsh words. At that point he seldom said anything. He just looked at me over his glasses.
Silence permeated the room.
He continued to look at me.
Silence. Silence. Silence. Deadening silence.
Then I usually started crying.
When I did that I knew I was wrong.
Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us, “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
My dad knew arguing with me was futile. He knew until I stopped making excuses about my behavior and started to own it, we wouldn’t get anywhere.
What’s remarkable to me now is that he was patient enough to wait for me to see the truth.
He knew that the absolute best way to help someone change their behavior is to help them see the truth about their behavior.
In terms of persuasion I call it self-discovery.
Blaise Pascal put it this way, “People are usually more convinced by reasons they discovered themselves than by those found out by others.”
We have to see the truth.
My dad knew that once I saw my truth I would cry because I felt bad about what I said. When I was 13 years old it was usually about what I said.
My own personal harsh words were something like, “you’re stupid”.
I think that’s because I was the youngest child, and I was a girl.
In 1966 that was a deal. I hope it’s different now for girls. I believe my granddaughters have the same choices and options my grandsons have today. In 1966 girls weren’t really expected to go to college to get a degree. We were sometimes given the option to go, but I don’t remember it being necessary for us to get a degree.
At any rate, I remember it was a ‘thing’ that I was a girl and my raspy words reflected that.
The last words of the passage (Ephesians 4:32) address the goal my dad had in mind. It was and is always God’s goal. After I had spewed out harsh words my dad would remind me that an apology was in order and forgiveness was necessary.
That meant I had to forgive whatever was done to me in the altercation and I had to apologize for my raspy words. I did comply because it was expected but I didn’t always ‘feel’ good about apologizing and forgiving.
As an adult I learned that feeling good or bad about forgiving it not a necessity. That’s because God knows our heart. God sees us through and through. God knows everything about every word. Our attempt to forgive or our intent to give God permission to help us work through the details of the situation is noted.
Even when we spew out, “SOR-RY” in a snotty raspy tone we are giving God permission to step in and help us.
It’s a start. It lets God know how to help guide us.
I think it’s remarkable and is a sign of just how much God really loves us. Even when we’re raspy and wrong…God loves.
Spiritual Practice: Forgive
Let go of your pain and tell God you forgive someone who hurt you. You don’t have to feel good about it. You only need to tell God you forgive them.
In God, Deborah