Hi, my name is Tracy, and I have a cursing problem.
My first instinct, when pretty much anything off-kilter happens, is to break out all the salty words I learned growing up.
Except I use, and fight using, the real versions of these words. Daily. Hourly. And if I’m honest, sometimes it’s actually minute to minute.
And as an English major, I can use most of these words quite flexibly in at least three, if not four, parts of speech. I am (mostly) not proud to admit it, but those closest to me know my struggle. It is, as the saying goes, real.
I am a public school teacher, and have managed in my 18 year career to only curse at a student out loud in front of a class, once. Today, members of that class are some of my favorite Facebook buddies, and the object of my frustration that day has grown up to be a remarkable young man with whom I occasionally have really interesting conversations. So, thankfully, I didn’t scar him for life.
My propensity for profane language has also put me in the uncomfortable situation of having to explain to my children why they are not allowed to use the same words as mommy. I am not proud of this, and am sharing only to place the story to come in its proper context.
After a lifetime of having to bleep my language for stubbed toes and dropped bowls of cereal, imagine my surprise when, as I was being t-boned by a mid-sized pick-up truck early Friday morning, I wasn’t cussing.
I was calling out, “Oh God! Jesus!”
In the moment of my life when I was more afraid for my personal safety than I’ve ever been, I didn’t use my day-to-day go-to list of sailor’s words.
I resorted to my faith.
It’s one of the strongest memories I have from the wreck, and may come to be one of the defining moments of my faith. I don’t publicly talk about my faith often, because I know that I don’t set the example of what a Christian should be, (refer back to the beginning of this this for a reminder).
I also have always treated my faith as a private thing, something to nurture and struggle with privately, individually. I know this isn’t what the Bible teaches, but again, me = completely imperfect. A lot of my family are atheists, and for the sake of keeping peace, I often avoid religious conversations, preferring to live by example rather than profession. But so strong is the memory of 6:17 AM Friday morning, that I’m reconsidering the implicit treaty of silence that my non-believing friends and family and I have shared.
One of the few sermons I specifically remember from my childhood, involves Reverend Dicer from the Tipp City Church of the Nazarene telling the story of a friend of his who had drowned. He shared with us his hope that his non-Christian friend had looked skyward as he sank and asked for God’s blessing on his life and impending death.
And a friend of mine once taught me that baptism is the outward sign of an inward change. For me, that inward change has been a slow, decades-long procession working toward doing the best I can each day, every day, to be worth the price Christ paid.
Most days, I count far too many mistakes, too many moments of weakness, and too many failures of thought, speech, and action to come close to even a fraction of the value of a life sacrificed.
But the one time it really counted for me, a true test of who or what I’d call on, I feel like I passed that test.
I hope in the days that come, as my bruises come to the surface and fade away, and the sore muscles knot and stretch, I will keep that gratitude for my life, and that instantaneous acknowledgment of my faith at the forefront of my mind. There is great peace and comfort in knowing for certain what you believe, and why you believe it, and how it will show.
So for now, as I navigate insurance, claims adjusters, car pool and potential van shopping, I will cling to that comfort, and the gratitude I feel for my life, my aching muscles, and my faith