I have been speaking the English language my entire life, give or take a couple of years. There are a few words that still give me trouble. The first one to come to mind is “rural.” So, I avoid using it. If you do not live in the city, you live in a “country” area, or “out in the country.”
I am not alone in my struggle with the English language. A friend of mine was recently reminded of his inability to pronounce the word, “toward.” He had avoided the word for so long, he forgot the problem was even there. It wasn’t until the word showed up on his kid’s elementary school vocabulary list, that he rediscovered his difficulty.
When he told me about it, I laughed. “I cannot say the word TOARD,” he then had to spell it out, because I really had no idea what he was saying. Mike normally doesn’t have much of an accent. I told him that he sounded like he was from a very rurrur country area.
Everyone must have a certain word that give them trouble. If speaking isn’t a problem, spelling is.
Sometimes the spelling of the word is so inaccurate that spellcheck can’t even help. I am very skilled at avoiding such words.
These flaws are common and show that we are not perfect. We do, however, avoid using them so to prevent our embarrassment.
Thinking of this brought to mind another embarrassment that I recently became aware of.
We are taught a code of conduct from birth. We grow and learn that certain actions and bodily functions are not appropriate in a social or professional setting. Unless you were raised in a barn, you do not fart or burp in these settings.
I long ago discovered a way to muffle or silence by burps. It’s a technique that I do not even know how to accurately describe. I close my mouth, burp and slowly release the air, silently. This technique allowed me to belch at the library, at business meetings, on dates, at weddings and at funerals. My silent belching ability was like a super power.
Was. It was like a super power.
A few months ago, I was playing with my seven-year-old daughter when I deployed one of my “silent burps.” She immediately said “excuse you!” What happened? Maybe I faltered on my technique. So I tried again. Once again, my daughter says, “Excuse you!” and added, “Daddy, that’s rude. You should say ‘excuse me.’”
Did she possess a super power that allowed her to hear my silent burps? I ran to the bedroom to silently burp in front of my wife. She eventually asked, ‘why are you standing there burping?’
I began to question everything as I came to the realization that my ‘silent burps’ were not silent, and they never had been. I recalled every instance that I proudly belched in a socially unacceptable setting. How rude I must have been.
This gaseous blunder had likely prevented me from gaining promotions, respect, and second dates. Thirty years-worth of embarrassment suddenly weighed heavy on my mind.
If I have ever inappropriately belched in your presence, I am sorry. I am, however, not one to dwell on the past. I see a learning opportunity in my misfortune.
Just as every person has a word they struggle to pronounce or a word they struggle to spell, we all have struggles of the spirit as well. We all have our sins that tempt us. We would do well to avoid the situations that tempt us.
Flee from Sin! Avoid the thing that entices you to sin as fervently as I avoid speaking the word rural!
Too often, we do not avoid the situations. We do not flee from our sins, we only attempt to employ a silencing technique.
Much as I silenced my belching, we silence our sins. Instead of avoiding alcohol, we pop a breath mint. Instead of avoiding lust, we use incognito mode on our web browser. Instead of avoiding hatred, we disguise it as a concern for salvation. We mask coveting with ambition. We bask in bitterness and call it righteousness.
A tree is known by the fruit that it bears. Our attempts to muffle our own sin is as futile as my attempts at silent belching. We work hard on our techniques to hide our moral failures, and may think we have been successful. But our sins are not silent. The consequences echo to those around us.
This also brings to mind the responsibility we have in correcting a brother in sin. If someone had only told me that my silent burps weren’t silent, I would have stopped my inappropriate burping years ago. We can’t assume that a person is aware of the impact of sin.