One day, I was coming out of the grocery store, and as I was pushing my grocery basket to my car, I noticed a lady with a few kids, unloading her groceries into her car. What caused me to notice her, was her language. Her kids were doing what kids do, not listening when she said "get in a put your seatbelts on". One was standing up in the front seat, and the other two were chasing each other around the car. Typical kid-stuff - grocery store parking lots are fun, when you're a kid.(emphasis mine)
Anyway... she snapped, and began to unleash on those cute little kids, the most vile stream of expletives, I have ever heard. Now let me just say here - it's not as if I was a stranger to this kind of language. For many years I was a metal-head... you know what I mean, black leather clad head-banger type. All my friends were metal heads, and all their friends, were metal heads. We walked the walk, talked the talk, and lived what we were.
But everything was different now... all the leather was gone, all the abandon was gone, and I was a new creation in Christ, and most desirous to live to please Him, and grow in grace.
So when I heard this woman unload this verbal-bomb on her children, I literally stopped mid-parking lot, and I'm sure my jaw dropped open like a kid hearing the F word for the first time. I will never forget the impact those words, had on those kids. They were literally crushed. Their faces fell, their body language changed, they didn't even look her in the eye. They immediately calmed down, and almost as if in slow motion, got into their seats and put their seatbelts on. All the while I'm standing behind her car (she never even noticed me), with tears welling up in my eyes. The urge to go hug those cute little kids, was almost overwhelming. And she didn't stop cussing at them, AFTER they were in the car - that was when she took her opportunity to remind them how stupid they were, what brats they were, and so on and so forth, but said with just as many cusswords.
I wanted to say something to her... to them... but I didn't know what to say, or if saying anything at all was the right thing to do. I stood there like a statue, and started to cry. Eventually I got it together and walked away, toward my car, with a million thoughts racing through my heart. "They're going to speak just like her as they grow up"... "do they hear this all the time?"... "does their dad talk like this to them to?"... "I would have died if my mom ever talked to me like that"... and then the last thought, that overpowered them all was "this is what I sound like when I get mad".
That one - messed me up badly. What scum I was, daring for even one half of one iota of a second, to sit in judgement of that lady for doing the very same thing I did! So I went home crying, and told my husband about it. I said "is this what I sound like when I get mad and cuss?" he said no, not quite that bad, but sometimes very close. I was crushed as those kids in the parking lot. I had to go to the kids and tell them what I just witnessed, and apologized all over the place for EVER talking like that in front of them, or to them, and asked them to forgive me. After that I set out on a study to find out what the Bible says about our speech, and our conduct, and how we are to deal with both. If I was convicted by what I witnessed at the grocery store, and more convicted by what my husband said when I heard "not that bad, but close", I was thoroughly and absolutely UNDONE by what I read in Scripture about it.
It is interesting, sometimes it is easier for us to realize our sin by seeing others mirror it. We can read something in Scripture and often ignore it, but when we see our sin on display...Well, it is a little more difficult to ignore, isn't it? Suddenly Scripture comes alive and we become heart broken over our sin. I suppose it is sad that we often are able to ignore Scripture (I'm as guilty as the next person) but I'm thankful that the Lord will show me my sin in my life. I can't tell you how I've just been broken when I allow Him to show me my sin. It is in times like these that the Bible just comes alive. In our trials, in our broken-ness, in our every day to day life His Word is there waiting for us to grab ahold of it and allow it to transform us. And like Carla, "The next many years was a constant and difficult battle to control my tongue, and also greive deeply over the little battles lost. To this very day - I'm painfully and sharply mindful of it, and still, every once in a purple moon, I lose a tongue-control battle - BUT - compared to how it used to be, well, let's just say He's brought me a LONG way."