How do you use your words to glorify God and grow in your sanctification?
I consider myself an expert “splinter detector,” aka fault finder in others, while my personal beam awareness could use some serious improvement. Spending far too much time finger-pointing instead of recognizing while I’m pointing out someone else’s faults, there are three fingers aimed right back at me. In 2021, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart to examine my “beam” behaviors. During my time in Adoration, I would ask the Lord to (gently) reveal where the eradication should begin. To my surprise, my prayer revealed two areas—swearing and the telling of “little white lies.”
The first step, bring these behaviors to the Sacrament of Reconciliation—the sacrament of healing—so the Lord might shine His much-needed grace upon them. With a mortal sin, Confession restores grace lost in sin. With venial sins, this beautiful sacrament increases grace, empowering you toward making necessary changes—toward a conversion of heart.
Let’s start with the swearing and St. Paul’s thoughts on our words.
No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
My father worked in a factory, and his ability to weave cuss words into every part of speech was truly an art form. After my reversion back to the Catholic Church in 2005, I removed using the Lord’s name in vain from my vocabulary; however, I still clung to a few sentence enhancers. Surely I could control when they made their appearance. While out with some new friends, I let one of those bad boys slip. This experience revealed I had far less control than I thought, and this was not the impression I wanted to make.
I invoked the intercession of my Guardian Angel as I worked through eradicating these words from my vocabulary, especially when doing live radio, giving a presentation, or speaking with my Bishop (whom I work with).
To intentionally deceive people, even with the tiniest untruth, whether we see it that way or not, never represents a life rooted in Christ.
Now, about those little lies, I told to keep from getting in trouble, being embarrassed, or hurting someone’s feelings: it seemed harmless enough. Some were partial truths, a bending of the facts, and it wasn’t hurting anyone. We think those falsehoods go undetected—but guess what? They do not and can seriously tarnish your reputation. Sadly, this realization came from experiencing this in a close relationship in my life. Trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and even more difficult to regain.
Once I experienced this from the receiving end, I vowed always to be truthful, no matter how difficult the situation. As we read in Titus, being trustworthy is an essential virtue in our quest for holiness and heaven, “in the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2). To intentionally deceive people, even with the tiniest untruth, whether we see it that way or not, never represents a life rooted in Christ.
So please, a word of advice, if you don’t want the whole truth—unbridled, yet spoken in love—please don’t ask me if that pair of pants look good on you.
Funny story postscript to share:
When God calls you to make a change, I have noticed, He will sometimes give you a little test to see how you are coming along with the task. Over the summer, my dear friend (and amazing cook) Karen made me a special allegen-friendly version of Portuguese Rice Pudding (one of my favorite desserts). While I could not wait to dive in, the pizza, wine, and blueberry cobbler pizza dessert, also on the table that evening, prevented me from taking even a nibble.
We brought it home, and the next day, although I wanted to consume every last grain of rice, my mysophobia (the irrational fear of contamination) prevented me from doing so (as it had been unfortunately been left out longer than I felt comfortable with). I wanted to lie to save face and my friend’s feelings; however, my fabulous Spiritual Director reminded me of the fault the Lord had called me to correct and how this was the perfect opportunity to put the more truthful Allison into practice.
Although super difficult, I managed to blurt out the rice pudding’s fate—feeling extra awful knowing the expense and effort she put in to make it dairy, egg, and gluten-free!! Ever gracious, she accepted my apology and even offered to make me a new one! We laughed and moved on; it was far easier than I expected. Rejoicing in having another layer planed down on my beam!
Copyright © 2022 Allison Gingras. Images: Canva
This article first appeared at CatholicMom.com.