S*** and the Peace of Christ
A few months ago, a friend and I shared a conversation about a longing to inhabit prayer, to live a life of conversation with God. We agreed to exchange a text at the end of the week or every few weeks to check in and to keep each other mindful that deepening relationship is a choice. A day or so after our phone visit, I texted her and asked her to also pray for me about my mouth and the words I choose to say, or not say, that add life or take it. It seemed to me a contradiction, seeking on-going communion with God while maintaining a lazy-word mouth.
Engaging in both elements was like sitting down to a table full of real and beautiful food, savoring it and appreciating the nourishment from it. Awareness of the presence of God and listening to the still small voice of the Spirit feeds me; like nutritive food, it goes all the way to the cellular level, restoring and repairing me.
Except this one thing: I keep saying the word shit. At first, after I asked for prayer and sought to be more intentional about the quality of my speech, I found other words. But in the last two or three weeks, I don’t wait for other words, don’t look for other words. When something presses against a core value of mine–like justice, or honesty, or beauty–it fires something within the deepest parts of me. And I say it. Sometimes quick and precise. Sometimes drawn out like I talk when I go back to Kentucky. Sometimes by itself, and sometimes accompanied with “I don’t give a” or “bull” or “horse.”
Today, I watched a video of men reading real tweets to women sports writers. I worked hard to share the post without using the word s*** when what I wanted to say most contained that very sentiment.
While trying to grasp what it means that no protective barriers exist for my kids and what kind of s*** is hurled at them on the regular, not to mention the atrocities raining down on children here, there, and everywhere, I holler bulls***.
As I hit the parenting pavement another day and lift my weight to pull against mediocrity and underwhelming glory when I know what kind of shine exists a little deeper down, past getting by and being tethered to fleeting garbage, I just get spitting mad.
It’s a barometer for my soul, the s*** overflow. Fear, anger, fatigue, powerlessness. I’m not saying it’s okay. I’m not saying it is not okay. I don’t think it speaks to the reality of transformative power available to us, to me. My bullied insides let out a cry for peace, a prayer for the separation between myself and the dung that sticks and smells and pollutes and makes toxic.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,” Jesus told his closest companions, because he knew they needed to have it to hold onto and hold close. He knew then and knows now what kind of anti-nourishment this world doles out. It is unsatisfying and tastes like, well, you know.
So to my friend: I am pouring out my heart to Jesus today, walking as close to him as I know how to. Bad words and all. I am asking for his peace to settle me.