When my darling nephew, Ryan, was about 3 or 4 years old, he spoke out from the back seat of his parents’ car and said “Daddy, it’s wrong to say the “F” word, isn’t it?” Quaking with fear and thinking, “What the ‘f-word’ is going on here?” my brother, Tim, looked at his wife and then in the rear view mirror. He said, “What is the ‘f-word,’ buddy?”
Ryan steadfastly refused to repeat it. “No daddy. I’ll get in trouble!” After repeated assurances that he would not, Ryan finally took a deep breath and said, “The ‘f-word’ is ffffff-fat!”
My brother and sister-in-law almost burst with relief, joy and a lot of laughter. They held it together long enough to agree with Ryan that yes, calling someone fat is not a good thing to do.” But Ryan wasn’t finished. He had more words.
“You also shouldn’t say the ‘d-word,’ the ‘b-word,’ or the ‘h-word,’ right? Some of the laughter stopped with that niggling concern of, “surely he couldn’t know these words yet, could he?” After some more assurances that no punishment would be meted out for repeating the words, my nephew shared what he had just learned.
My brother asked “What’s the d-word?”
“And the ‘b-word?'”
By this point, Tim and Ann were giggling so hard it was becoming increasingly difficult to contain the laughter. They did not want to hurt precious Ryan’s feelings or make him feel stupid. (Perhaps that was the ‘s-word.’). Finally, Tim asked, “What about the ‘h-word,’ Ryan?”
When my brother was telling the family this story, and we were all consumed by laughter, we were seated around a kitchen table somewhere playing a card game. After we laughed, and finished the round of cards, my other brother, Todd, began to bemoan and rehash every mistake he had made in that hand and what he coulda/shoulda/woulda done differently. He kept going on and on and on until finally I couldn’t take it any longer. Before I could even think, the words came flying out of my mouth.
“Oh shut up you dumb fat butt!”
We had to stop playing cards for a while in order to compose ourselves. Laughter is fantastic exercise!
I thought of this story the other day, and after reliving each detail and smiling about the various parts of the entire tale, it occurred to me that God has been telling me the same thing that I told my brother. I have cried and whined and bemoaned my mistakes, my pain, my agony with such tedium at times that I think God was saying the equivalent of “Shut up you Dumb Fat Butt!”
But in God’s infinite and unfailing love, it comes out a bit more gentle. In HIS words, he says, “Lynette. Be Still and KNOW that I am God.”
I’m giving that a try. It’s a lot nicer than the ‘F-word.’