This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling north to Santa Barbara and meeting my sister and her friend for the weekend. As we perused the street vendors and kitschy wall hanging plaques we laughed out loud as we read the crass slogans which illuminated truths about our lives. For instance, one plaque had a picture of a woman in an apron and alongside her read, “The menu for the night? Take it or leave it!”
Now fast forward to Sunday evening when I was again home and surrounded by my motley family (dogs and all), we had a visitor who happens to be expecting her seventh child. She had a moments reprieve from her “little birds” and came over to our house for a visit (because she acquiesced to my daughter’s request, not because she had some free time with nothing to do!); now as the dinner hour fast approached, the subject of feeding the family was laid out on the table. And of course with that subject comes much comedy especially when two or more mothers are gathered and interject their own trials in nutritiously satisfying the varying palates of their brood. So it was with appropriate context that I shared the kitschy plaque about “take it or leave it.” To which my friend answered, “I don’t want that plaque, I want one that says, Shut the Hell Up!” Now you have to understand why this is so funny to me…it is because my dear friend, who has six little ones with another gaining speed, is such a loving mother and wife. Her passion is taking care of her family and loving the great I AM. So this crass response was just absolutely hysterical (my word choice here is no coincidence for those of you who love language, look up the etymology of hysterical and you will understand its perfect fit), and of course I love her rendition of the plaque much more than the original.
In fact, I have found myself uttering those very words this morning…
I was in the bathroom, having some private time (or so it should have been), the door was closed and the fan was on (now that should be clue enough for everyone to get the gist of what I was doing in the loo) when my husband decided to have a sit down near the door and converse with me about details of, who knows–I can’t remember, all I remember is the subject was not pressing and the details could have, should have, and would have to wait!! In that moment, just about an hour ago, I found myself thinking the uttering of my friend, “shut the hell up”! Now I realize it could be argued that a response such as that is warranted given the circumstance of the situation, however, I personally feel that such abrupt and rude language is never the appropriate manner in which to respond; so I didn’t use it…out loud. But I thought it.
And the fact that I thought it bothers me. I will tell you why.
There is an old adage that goes something like this:
“Be careful what you think because your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions, and your actions become your character. And character is everything.” So truth be told, my thought life has been a bit polluted for a while now. And when considering the truth of the referenced proverb, I am in for some trouble if I don’t let the thought police come and do a bit of housecleaning. I am in trouble because I don’t like the slippery slope of negativity that the “shut the hell up” response suggests. No, not the “shut the hell up” said in a humorous context of kitschy plaques and dinnertime, but the “shut the hell up” thought toward my happy go lucky husband who is undeserving of such a response. Actually, he is undeserving of me nurturing such responses, as is the rest of my family, as are my neighbors, as are the anonymous drivers on the road, as is the community in which I live or travel to, as is my G-d, as is myself.
Granted, my husband sitting outside the bathroom door while I’m taking care of “business” is definitely not a habit I intend to encourage. But I will employ a gentler attitude when I stand firm upon the platform of “absolutely not.” And the impetus to my decision is this: love builds up, it does not tear down. If I allow “shut the hell up” to fall from my lips upon the ears of any one of my beloveds, then I have failed to express the true essence of love. So I avow at this moment to climb up the rope of the slippery slope backwards and by doing so redirect the course of my actions.
Thought Police, permission granted to come aboard!