It was a sacred moment for me. I entered the stately brick Methodist church through wooden doors that were twice my size. I journeyed down hallowed halls that were filled with a holy hush. Then I found the room where the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group met.
This was my very first speaking engagement in my new journey as a professional Christian communicator. I was prepared, a little nervous, and to bolster my self esteem I had on a lot of hot pink. My presentation was about how God’s grace was a greater factor in how our children turned out than our own mommy failures.
I was telling the story about how an autism therapist gave me a list of strategies to teach social skills to my son. She wanted me to take him to the park and initiate social interactions with strangers. Even while she was talking, I knew that I was not going to do that. It was too hard. As I shared my thoughts with these young moms, my words didn’t come out right.
They came out in a way that nearly made me wet my pants.
The sound of my filthy mouth reverberated around those hallowed hallways and obliterated any holy hush that had been present before. And then I was mortified. I could see the next day’s newspaper headlines:
“BIBLE TEACHER CUSSES DURING MOPS TALK AT LOCAL CHURCH”
Now, since I know that you are wondering what I said (you know you are) I will just tell you now and save you the question. I said, in reference to taking my son to the park to initiate social interactions with strangers,
“THERE’S NO WAY IN %@&! THAT I WAS GOING TO DO THAT.”
Now as you gasp (OH!), know that I surely gasped too. I apologized profusely, and I was sure that I would NEVER be invited back to this church, probably any church, to speak again.
I went home that day defeated, feeling like I had blown my first speaking gig. That afternoon, I snuggled with my puppy, took a nap, and ate a cookie as I dealt with my mortification and shame. I apologized to Jesus for not being a good example to these young moms.
But slowly, the reality of the situation began to dawn. I had let my humanity show to those women. I was real. I didn’t pretend to be perfect. I was authentic, which is something younger women crave. Don’t you know that when they heard the guest speaker swear that they thought, “Gosh, she’s just like me. She makes mistakes and she blows it and she has to ask forgiveness just like I do.”
When I talked to those ladies about my unexpected and certainly unrehearsed outburst, they said it made me more relatable. When I bravely posted my experience on Facebook, I heard from many young Christian moms that let an expletive fly here or there. It just confirms that we are all human and we blow it from time to time.
I’m not proud of what I said, but God used my mistake by making me a speaker that these young, struggling moms can relate to. I don’t want to be an untouchable example of perfection, but of grace-filled process. I’m becoming like Jesus every day, but I’m not there yet.
I’m thankful that God can use my embarrassing slip-up to give other women hope.
And I’m thankful that those young moms want me to come speak again. And this time, I will wash my mouth out with soap before I go. Promise. Just in case.