I said the D word yesterday.
I don’t mean Dang, or Drat, or even Darn.
I mean the real D word.
In my defense, the Packers had just lost a 18 point lead over the Cowboys with 30 seconds left to play in the game and Aaron Rodgers was running the ball to avoid being intercepted.
So I said the D word.
And as fate would have it, my nephew Ben chose that particular moment to walk upstairs with his 2 buddies from youth group and watch the last 30 seconds of the game. Mortified, he looked at me and said one word: “Lina!”
My first instinct was to chide him for allowing two strangers into my sister’s house on game day.
My second instinct was to blame the folks I work with in the ER for sullying my brain.
My third instinct was to worry about the future of my nephew and his youth group mates.
Would they ever survive the disappointment of a Bible teacher saying the D word – as justifiable as it seemed to be in that particular moment.
Half of you reading this blog are rolling your eyes over the juvenile nature of my stress. We have bigger fish to fry this week, after all.
A new president – a controversial new president mind you – is about to rule the world as we know it.
The Russians are to blame for the demise of our country.
The Syrian refugee crisis is ongoing and Assad is being touted as the Savior of the Middle East.
The economy is bad. Health care is a bust. Social media is agonizing.
And here I am worried about using the D word in front of the next generation.
The other half of you is just as mortified as my nephew was. You’re about to ship back every Bible study you’ve ever bought from me and donate my books to the Salvation Army. Scratch that, you wouldn’t sully the Salvation Army bin with a cussing Bible teacher. You’ll have to drop the books off at your local Good Will instead.
Alas, meet Lina AbuJamra, aka broken Bible study teacher in desperate need of grace.
The reality is that I was wrong.
I used the D word and I was wrong.
My nephew will survive it. His youth group buddies’ faith will survive. Even you will survive it.
In a world where there are bigger fish to fry, our words do matter.
They build up or they tear down.
They lift up or they destroy.
They reflect light or they hinder it from shining.
The wisest man in the world came to this conclusion: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose” Proverbs 18:21
James the brother of Jesus also understood the power of the tongue: “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!” James 3:5.
And who of us doesn’t get it?
Who of us hasn’t felt the sorrow of a word quickly spoken?
Who hasn’t agonized over words we wished we could take back?
Who hasn’t wondered…if only I had chosen my words more carefully?
Even when the Packers really were to blame for such words?
So today, don’t be too shocked if someone you respect accidentally uses the D word.
And don’t be too rash in jumping to conclusions or in pointing fingers.
Instead, let’s pray with the Psalmist: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” Psalm 141:3.
Let us be light this day, this week, this year,
starting with our words.
Hey have you had a chance to listen to my most recent difficult conversation podcast about the Church and the LGBTQ community? You can listen here and send me any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org: