The Day My Heart Dropped the F-bomb

I will never forget it.

Shepherd was a few weeks old, so I was a few weeks sleep deprived. Sleeping in increments of no more than 3-4 hours was doing quite a number on my mental and emotional state. So was nursing; changing diapers; hearing my baby scream ¾ of the time (my perception of things, which may or may not have actually been reality – probably not); watching way too much day-time TV; rarely having an intelligent conversation; looking at my post pregnancy body in the mirror; and wondering why in the world I didn’t like motherhood as much as “everyone else” does.

I was a mess. A depressed, exhausted, overwhelmed, discouraged mess.

One morning I was nursing Shep and our sweet, incredibly laid-back Boston Terrier sat down in front of the back door, which is his way of asking to go out. He’ll sit there for a while before he starts whining. If you ignore the whining, he’ll get his point across by barking. As Shep took his sweet time eating, the whining began. After a few minutes, it turned into barking. High-pitched, incredibly annoying barking.

As I listened to bark after bark, unable to get to the door and put an end to the irritating madness, something in me snapped. I couldn’t take it anymore. I finished feeding Shepherd, but him in his swing, barreled my way to the door, flung it open, and declared in a seething, angry whisper under my breath, “I am so sick of this F__________ dog!”

That’s right, folks. This Jesus-loving, profanity-hating girl who loathes the f-word more than I can even express watched it fly right out of her mouth. Not because of a near-death experience, not because I had been harassed or deeply offended, not because of anything else that some (not me!) might say warrants the use of such a horrible word, but because of a dog.

A sweet, gentle, mellow, innocent . . .  dog. (Isn’t he handsome?)

As often happened during that post-partum period, I started to cry. And then I started to weep. But this time it wasn’t the typical, hormone-induced “woe-is-me-I-can’t-do-this-anymore” cry.  It was the kind of cry that happens when God pulls back the curtain on the real you. When He gives you that high-definition, 3-D, IMAX theater view of your own heart.

The tears were tears of conviction. Tears of regret. Tears of longing to never, ever repeat what had just happened.

You see, my dog didn’t make me drop the f-bomb. Neither did the “pressure cooker” of caring for a newborn. My mild case of post-partum depression wasn’t to blame. My loneliness didn’t force the word out. I was not a victim of extreme exhaustion or out-of whack hormones.

All of those things mattered. They influenced me. They weakened my defenses. They weighed on me big time. They hurt me. They made it incredibly challenging to keep my eyes on Jesus. They made life really, really hard for several LOOOOOOOOOONG months.

But they didn’t make me sin. They didn’t make me drop the f-bomb.

I did that . . .  all by myself.

According to Jesus, my circumstances weren’t my biggest problem that day – my heart was.  He said it this way:

“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

I can’t even begin to express the significance of that verse. Words are never accidental. They always have a source. And no matter what is going on around us, that source is always within us.

You know what I discovered when I took a good look into what “stuff” in my heart caused such fifth to come out of my mouth?

I discovered a deeply rooted desire for things to be more like they used to be, and a whole lot of resentment that such a thing was never going to happen.

I discovered anger toward my husband and even toward God that was fostered by a spirit that demanded relief and comfort.

I discovered an idol of my “ideal life” and personal ambitions which did NOT included 24/7 infant care.

I discovered an enormous amount of unhealthy guilt that I didn’t enjoy motherhood as much as I should and that I was having such a hard time embracing it as a “high calling” and worthwhile ministry.

I had allowed my heart to become a seedbed of discontentment, fertilized by selfishness and watered by self-pity.

A heart like that can only fake a smile for so long. It’s only a matter of time before that junk starts to creep up to the surface.

And it may only take a dog to do it.

You have to know that my honesty has a purpose. It’s not to make you feel sorry for me or to solicit advice about how “baby number two” will be easier. This is not a post about the pressures of motherhood. And it’s not really a post about the tongue. It’s a post about the importance of our hearts. It’s a friendly reminder that the root of your problem with your speech or any other sinful behavior is not around you, it’s within you.

And did I mention that’s the best news you could possibly get?

Here’s the thing: You may not be able to run and hide from your family, “fix” your difficult husband, find a cure for your chronic migraines, “deal” with your grief, successfully potty train your stubborn toddler, escape your duties to care for aging parents, crawl out from your overwhelming work load, avoid the person who has hurt and betrayed you, quit your miserable job, find relief from your financial strain, or take that much-needed vacation. Sometimes you find yourself trapped in one of life’s pressure cookers with no end in sight, no one willing or able to take you off the heat, and no hope for relief.

But there is ALWAYS hope for your heart!

His name is Jesus.

His cross supplies its cleansing, His Spirit empowers its changing, and His Word directs its feeling. (Yes, you read that right. I wholeheartedly believe Jesus can transform our emotions!)

Are you ashamed of anything that has come out of your mouth lately? You can sit around and play the “if only” game . . .

If only I weren’t married.

If only I could get some “me” time.

If only I didn’t have such a dysfunctional family.

If only my husband hadn’t lost his job.

If only I could pursue my passion.

If only I could get rid of this pain.

If only these kids would obey me the first time I say something.

But “if only’s” make you a victim.

Owning up to and confessing the sin of your own heart sets you on the path toward victory.

I don’t know about you, but I choose victory!!!

Nothing has had a more profound impact on my spiritual growth than embracing the truth that I am my biggest problem. My heart is what needs the most change, not my circumstances. My words, my actions, my attitude, my parenting, my writing, my teaching . . . my LIFE – it’s all determined by what’s in my heart. And nothing in my heart is beyond Christ’s power to change!

The same is true of you.

So don’t neglect it. Don’t ignore it. Don’t underestimate it. And most importantly, don’t miss out on God’s gracious provision for it.

Because you just never know when a dog might get on your last nerve.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart by acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14

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