Allison Gingras discusses her efforts to remove the "beam in her own eye": two ways she used words.
I consider myself an expert splinter detector, while my 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 eradications 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).
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 looks good on you.
Copyright 2022 Allison Gingras
About the Author
Allison Gingras works for Family Rosary, Catholic Mom and the Diocese of Fall River as a social media and digital specialist. She is the author of Encountering Signs of Faith (Fall 2022, Ave Maria Press). Allison developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series including her volumes—The Gift of Invitation and Seeking Peace (OSV). Podcast host of A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras and a co-host of Catholic Momcast.