“Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies.”
A couple of years ago, Scott and I went to the grocery store to purchase, among other things, peanut butter. We ended up settling on this delicious-looking jar of Peter Pan that had honey in it. We grabbed it and took it home. Over the next few days, Scott took a couple of peanut butter sandwiches to work, and one night in front of the television, he went on a sort of mini-binge.
He spent the next couple of days after that feeling miserable (I’ll spare you the details). I chalked it up to a virus that had been going around. Shortly after this, I saw a story on the news about recalled peanut butter. I checked my cupboard and sure enough, our nearly empty jar had been in the “bad batch.”
We’re JIF people now…
I’m not fully convinced that verse three is referencing the whole “watch what you say” thing; rather, I read on and see what it says in verse four about not consuming the delicacies of evildoers. It makes me think that this passage is more about asking for strength to avoid potentially bad situations.
When I wasn’t going to church (and for part of the time I was physically attending), I found another “church” of sorts in my favorite local dueling piano bar. It was a place I knew I could always go to find acceptance, happiness, and a way to deal with life. They always seemed genuinely glad to see me. If I had a great week, they’d have a drink with me to celebrate; if something shitty happened, they’d listen and offer a drink to take the edge off. Within a matter of months, I was hooked. I went from having a couple drinks ever few months or so to knocking back a half-dozen drinks (and at LEAST that many shots) twice a week, minimum. I earned the nickname “Party Nikki.” No one had ever given me a nice nickname before! This place was amazing.
Over the next couple years, I became complacent about things that, in the past, had been absolutely abhorrent concepts to me–frequent drug use, casual sex (married or not), drinking and driving…while I didn’t participate in these activities (okay, I drove myself home ONCE, will never do it again), I didn’t think less of people who did–rather, it sorta became the norm. And while I wasn’t doing those things, I was still partying pretty hard–not just having a few cocktails with friends, but on a weekly basis getting to the bar when it opened, drinking until I threw up, occasionally flashing The Girls, stumbling to the car when the bar closed 8 hours later, peeing in the parking lot, and passing out in the car on the way home.
I’m incredibly fortunate in that I don’t develop chemical dependencies easily, if at all. Also fortunately (in a weird way), Scott was laid off in early 2009, and because of it, I’m not able to go out like I used to. Even now that he is working, my head spins when I think of how much I spent there during my “party stage.” Out of respect to Scott (who put up with me for a solid year of this), I now go about once every two weeks, and even then, I don’t drink near the volume I used to. Getting blitzed is a rarity. Then again, I attribute that mostly to the fact that I’m older…and more mature, I guess.
My point is not that either the bar or the people in it are evil; they are some of the kindest, most generous, most fun-loving people I know. As a matter of fact, I’m meeting a friend there tomorrow night that used to be one of my favorite bartenders. It comes down to what it seems to always come down to–self-awareness and asking God for help with discernment when it comes to seemingly harmless situations. There’s nothing inherently wrong with getting together with a friend for half-price martinis and insanely great entertainment; however, given the environment and past experiences, I’m learning to be vigilant in guarding my heart.
It doesn’t hurt to say grace before dinner, either… 😉