Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp

The Return of the Potty-Mouth

Posted by Vogeler on April 20, 2007

Before I was saved (four years ago), I used an awful lot of profanity.  Every other word out of my mouth was obscene, it seemed.

But when Jesus rescued me, the urge to use that kind of language was gone.  No desire, no habit, nothing.  Zilch.  Nada.  Zip.

Well, the last several months, I’ve been struggling with it again.  It’s a nearly-constant effort not to use that kind of language.

What is going on with me?  I’m honestly baffled with this.

Have any of you struggled with this?  What worked for you?  Any advice is welcome.



6 Responses to “The Return of the Potty-Mouth”

  1. Carma said

    Ayron and I struggle with it all the time. I find myself going in spurts and Ayron’s gets worse if he is working with his mechanic or the tent crew. Everytime I hear him curse at home, I smack his hand. Childish, yes, but we tried it. That failed when Ayron would first hold out his hand for me to smack, then curse.

  2. Mark H said

    I know exactly what you mean.

    I’ve found the best way to reverse any habit is to focus on cultivating a new habit, instead of focussing on losing the old habit. We magnify what we focus on. So if we focus on losing the old habit then we don’t actually lose it, we magnify it! We must focus on the new habit we wish to cultivate instead.

    I find if I focus on not having lustful thoughts, for example, that it becomes increasingly difficult not to. But if I focus on Jesus then it’s not an issue.

    We’re sometimes taught that repentance is turning away, i.e. from sin. But I think it’s more about turning towards, i.e. Jesus.

    So my advice regarding profane language would be to develop your worship language instead. Read the Psalms. Read the revelations of Jesus in prophetic books like Daniel and Revelation. Find new language to worship with, new words that express encounter with God, and spend time worshipping Jesus. Stick at it and you’ll find that His praise will always be on your lips instead of anything else.

    My friend Duncan Smith has an excellent teaching on dealing with wrong habits by focussing on Jesus instead of focussing on losing the habit:

    And finally. We all slip-up from time-to-time. Just cast your gaze back onto Jesus when you do 🙂

  3. SLW said

    You’ve got lots of good advice here, just let me ask you a question or two. Can you point to some recognizable source of distance between you and God (i.e. a disappointment, difficult relationship, an unfortunate circumstance, etc.)? I would wonder if the change in your tongue is not betraying some change in your heart. Sometimes we don’t know how to argue our our case with God and the tension we feel in our heart may be reflected in our mouth. If that’s the case, spend time wrestling with God until you’re ready to give in or that God makes something new. Secondly, have you been hanging with someone or been watching or listening to something that uses inappropriate language?

  4. Mark H said

    I’d just like to throw in a cautious note here. I do worry a little about advice that could be interpreted as “separate yourself from the world”. I’m not saying that’s what is intended, only that it could be interpreted that way.

    My advice is be in the world but not of it – and that was the Apostle Paul’s advice too, and the example that Jesus set for us. I often wonder what went on when Jesus got up early in the morning to pray. I’m pretty sure that a large part was that in His incarnate humanity He needed to work on His focus on Father. Jesus was branded a friend of drinkers and sinners because He hung out with them. But we also know He did what He saw Father doing – so He remained focussed in distracting environments.

    Don’t cut yourself off from people who use profane language – they need you. But do nurture your 24×7 focus on Jesus. And know that we all find it difficult and we’re all working on it too 🙂

    I hope this is helpful.

  5. Excellent advice, all. Thanks! You’ve given me a lot to think (and pray) about.

  6. ralph said

    I use the occasional “colorful” language at work, but I’ve found that its easier to not use it anywhere – and the first time I heard my toddler repeating a word that he heard his mother use, it cleaned up my language immediately! Being aware of the example we set is often enough.

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