Friday, November 13, 2009

four-letter words and substitutes...

The neon ball floated through the air above the net and I knew there would be no way JD would--What?! He hit it. In the nanosecond it registered, I scrambled across the tennis court but it wasn't enough time. I missed the return. To lose the set after a long, hard volley was beyond frustrating, so I did what any John McEnroe lover would do: I flung my racquet onto the floor and screamed out a word of injustice to the tennis gods. I turned to my tennis partner, Jelani, but he was motionless. I turned to JD. Then to Jas. No one moved.

Something in the cosmos changed because our lively, fun little game of tennis turned into spiritual intervention, with lame phrases like, It's just a game, or Why don't we call it a night, or the ever-patronizing, Why don't we stop and pray, by my over-religious sister.

I was confused. What just happened?

To this day, they still think I screamed out an unchoice word loud enough for people in Milwaukee to have heard. But I didn't. I promise I didn't. I let out a substitute word that may have sounded like a four-letter word. But I'm holy and a bible teacher and love Jesus and would never say such things, right? Riiiiiigt.*

But does this matter? An angst-filled word meant as a substitute is still an angst-filled word. If you're like my mother, you think I'm totally wrong. If you need intervention like me, how can we change the error of our ways? On a non-related note, why do I look like I'm going to eat you in this video?
*Disclaimer: Please don't ever bring this story up. I hate it. In my defense, I haven't cursed since the age of six when my mother heard me say a four-letter word and she washed my mouth out with a bar of soap. Seriously.


Kelly Langner Sauer said...

An issue that has been getting a lot of thought on our end recently, with a parroting toddler in the house... Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I personally use the fugly word a lot until my little Nephew asked me what the meaning of fugly was? I freak out and being a Spanish speaker it told him that it was fuchy and ugly, so I tried not to used the words of the subs words but sometimes without knowing , I know it doesn’t look good not just because I am a Christina but as a lady where are supposed to behave differently. Thanks Bianca.

Lacey said...

I also grew up in a house wear my mother believed that substitution of the word was a substitition but meant the same thing. To me it was better to say a sustitute word that the real thing but I wasn't meaning to say this horrible word. Stubbing my toe called for me to bite my lip and scream SHOOT!
Thanks for the blog post!

Anonymous said...

I dont like cussing. but I have before and I sometimes I still do, the main reason why I stopped is because it makes me feel ugly lol like I feel I lost that bit of femininity I've managed to attain. ^^' and I can't lose that because Im so boyish in so many other ways lol.


I use substitutes like no other mother lol, especially when it comes to the "f-bombs" I feel when I use a substitute it helps get some of my frustration out and if it were ever be directed at anyone it doesn't seem so damaging on both ends.

sometimes I feel we try to out smart God, we can out smart our mothers and everyone else but in the end even if you said "frick" instead of the "fbomb" you still meant to say the "fbomb"

great thought provoking vid. Bianca!

Tish said...

Before I knew Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I had the foulest mouth ever. By God's power, one day He cleansed me of it when I saw a women walking through a store with her child...and cussing the entire way. Seriously, I just completely stopped cussing. I did however continue to use words like darn and shoot...but now with a toddler in the house, I've realized I really don't want him saying those things, so I don't want to either.

What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what's in our hearts, so this topic is making me consider the times that I do use substitute words and why...thanks for leading me to look within!

Anonymous said...

i agree with your mom, i don't like those substitute words either. :)

Name Nazi said...

Are Christians not allowed to be angry? Isn't that what an angst filled word is ... an indication that we are angry?

Biblical characters called out to God in anger at times ...

These are questions to ponder. But. I am more than guilty of letting a few slip out here and there. You are so good at holding me accountable for my sins, Bianca. Good to turn the mirror sometimes.

Enjoy your weekend.

OksanaJ said...

Ugh..using substitution words is a biggy for me..I have a thing with saying "what the fudge!?" or "what the freak!"especially when I'm driving.. until recently saying this alone would be enough for me to get some frustration out. But, now I find myself using the word idoit or stupid because I have become less senitive to the sub words, they just don't seem to be making me feel better anymore soo now I'm thinking that it's probably better for me to try to express my frustration through other ways to avoid using sub words or worse words. Still working on this but now I try to say a quick prayer in that moment and that helps me calm down.

Bianca said...

Ugh. Reading this reminds me that I'm an example... yes, even to kids.

I say shut up all the time. Not like shut-your-mouth-and-stop-talking, but like shut-up-no-way-I-can't-believe-it. It took a three year old to tell me, "Bianca, don't say shut up! It's a bad word." I laughed. But it was a laugh out of embarrassment. Because she's right.

Emma Leigh Harasick said...

This is such a great topic, and causes us to really think what our heart motive is. Are we saying those subsitution words because we're angry or frustrated? I think the bigger question is, why are you angry and frustrated? You know, why do I get upset when I stub my toe? It all roots back to pride, thinking that when we don't have our lives happening the way WE want them to, we get upset, and have to verbalize it. Its ridiculous honestly, that I can get upset at someone cutting me off, or even stubbing my toe. I mean, if you are saved, you should have NOTHING to complain about, because you are on your way to Heaven!! And God is sovereign in our lives, and He is orchestrating them exactly as it is willed for our lives. So in those moments where I stub my toe and want to be angry, I take that moment to pray, and worship Jesus...

good subject Biana!!

Anonymous said...

no one is saying Christians can't be angry.

we're smart people we can find other words than using "cuss words" which is the question at hand.

you see, we can get angry and frustrated but anger should come and go and love should always grow.

if you're surrounded by people who understand your personality and know that when you use a substitute word it's just that a substitute word to express anger, there really shouldn't be a problem, but also try to be mindful of the people that don't know you because there can be misinterpretation.

Kayla said...


My opinion is way different.

I grew up in a family that refused to express any negative emotions. They acted like they didn't exist. Then my family situation changed and so did my social situation and I ended up with a group of friends that acted the same way. I don't hang out with this group of friends any more, either. I was constantly made to feel like I was an absolute idiot, ALL THE TIME, because I would get upset or angry about something and then want to figure out exactly why I felt that way. I wanted to fully express what I felt, and then go back after and figure it out, break it down, and find out the reasoning behind it, even if it was illogical reasoning. Only then could I really come to grips with my issue and allow God to deal with me on it if I was in error.

So I believe that saying that substitute words "said in angst or anger" is as wrong as saying the real word is an example of hyper-spiritual reasoning that can basically suck the life out of you. We're allowed to be angry. We are created in God's image and God gets angry. Maybe for better reasons than we do, but if He wanted us to be perfect He'd have created us that way and then there would have been no room for Jesus. I know the goal is to be like Jesus, but in the mean time I have a lot of things to work out.

So sometimes I cuss. I don't know why it makes me feel like it's a better way to express things sometimes, but I have really strong emotions and sometimes I just throw it out there. It's one of those things I don't do in front of most of my family members and I don't write it on facebook or twitter or whatever, basically because it's one of those "cause your brother to stumble" things or whatever. I have realized times where I have been cussing too much and feel the need to tone it down, but it's just weird- it's not that often, and I don't feel the urge to do it that often, just with certain people and in certain situations.

Every time I watch a movie with my mom and someone says a cuss word, she rolls her eyes and huffs and sighs and it honestly makes me not even want to watch movies with her. It's one of the most annoying things I've ever experienced. I think that level of touchiness is ridiculous.

Maybe one of these days I'll have more of an urge to tame my tongue and I'll cut out cussing altogether. And maybe I'll become the perfect housewife and have a spaceship in the backyard. I guess there are way more important issues that I feel like I have to deal with, and the importance of this one ranks there with the importance of medical marijuana on the political scale.

The verses that talk about your words? I think that if Christians were more concerned with not being absolutely horrible in the way that they talk to other people around them (or behind their backs) it would be much more beneficial rather than being proud that they didn't cuss. I've been around people who would let the f bomb drop every now and then but totally give you the shirt off their back. I'd rather have that than a prissy Christian who tells you to pray for your needs to be met than try to help you out.

Laurel said...

Great discussion, as always.

If I'm angry ... I say, "I am sooo... ANGRY right now." That is how I voice my negative emotion, if I feel a need to voice it at all.

On the flip side, if I say, "Shoot." or "Darn" that is not at all an angry word for me, it's an "Oh bummer ..." or "oops" or "I can't believe I ______" For me, those words have nothing to do with substituting for another word. My mind is not even thinking "Sh__" or "Dam_". But ... now you have me thinking. If someone else heard me say those 2 words, would they think I'm cussing?

On the other hand, I cannot STAND it (it makes me ANGRY) to hear Christian young adults saying, "Freakin'" or "Frickin'" How can they possibly think that those are not a subsitute for the "fbomb"? I actually heard a youth leader us the "freakin" word in a youth group message and it broke my heart. I was SHOCKED that this young lady would use such a word.

So ... call me old fashioned ('cause, I guess I am old), I'm probably thinking more like your Mom. But, she probably doesn't like shoot or darn either.

Now ... got to tell you ... when we are in an emergency/crisis situation, that is when our true colors shine. Most of us don't know how we would verbally respond, until we are in such a situation. I was BLESSED, 10 years ago, when I found out what my true colors were. I was driving my van with 8 of my children in the back, when we were hit by a semi-truck. I know many "good Christians" that probably would have responded with a boat load of cuss words. However ... I immediately called out to the Lord in prayer, out-loud. It was so cool. It gave such a peace to my children. It was completely unexpected. It was a serious emergency. And, without thinking about it, my heart cried out to God ... the very first, immediate response ... to call out to My Father in Heaven. I think I even shocked myself by my response.

I do not share that story to boast. I share that to encourage you. What do you think you would do in a similar situation? I hope that you, also, would cry out to the Lord.

Thanks Bianca, for the GREAT discussions.


Laurel :)
mama of 13

jacquelinefigueroa said...

Very interesting! I'm in the middle on this one because i'll say freakin every once in a while but it means just that. Now when some one says F that, then I think you really wanted to say that word. I guess it depends on the intention. BUT then the other day Aliyah said freakin and I flipped!

Laurel said...

So, okay, I've got to ask ...

What is the definition for "freakin"??? When that word popped up a few years ago it was definitely a substitute for the other f word.

Freakin was not a word in the English language 20 years ago.

"old mama"

Laurel said...

Hey Bianca,

Came across an article last night, from the October 10, 2009 issue of World magazine. The article is titled, Control that tongue.

Here are a few excerpts ...

"Brothers, can we talk about legalism? I wrote a blog sharing that God is teaching me to be careful with my mouth, and that there are no such things as inconsequential words. Then I was knocked off kilter with a thread of comments charging legalism.

Sure, we should always be careful of creeping legalism. The Apostle Paul was the first to say so ... and also the first to command, "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths." (Eph. 4:29)

If exhortation to godly speech is rebuffed as incipient legalism, then all preaching is impossible. Then your pastors are all legalists when they instruct you to any change of attitude or behavior. If the charge of legalism is the knee-jerk response to all advice, it puts a chill on everyone who has a word from the Lord for the building up of the saints - though Paul spent all of 1 Cor. 14 urging such mutual edifications.

I have learned that the Bible's commands are not glum duties but surprising doorways into intimacy with God. I am eager to share this.

This is seeking God with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind and all our strength. This is not legalism but the Christian life."

Sorry so long. Thought you might appreciate this perspective. I'll be writing a blog post about legalism and grace in the next day or two.


mama of 13

Tish said...

@laurel, that was awesome!


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