Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Substitute That Brought a Smile to My Face

Growing up.. in our home, all bad words starting with B, D, F and S were unimaginable. Our parents didn't use them and if we dared even say, "shut up" or "stupid," we were reprimanded and punished. My brother and I tried our luck with the word "shut up" a lot and upon doing so, would always quickly follow up with an apology. We knew it wasn't something we could say in front of our mom. End of story.

Why this didn't continue once I was out of the house is beyond me. It makes me sad that I let such words permeate into my daily vocabulary, even if it was only when things went really really bad.

This past summer, I criticized Quinn and Andy about their incessant use of the word "freak." I know it's not a bad word.. but it's what I'd call a substitute for a bad word. That's "freaking" awesome. What the "freak." Can you "freaking" believe it? My beef with the word "freak" was the fact that it was a substitute for a shorter F word that wasn't so proper. You could say the same about words like "shiz" or "gosh" (which I do proudly avoid) but instead, I do admit to using words like "crap" and oh my "goodness." There are also words like "geez" or "heck" but all of the aforementioned qualify as "substitutes." Most substitute words are one or two letters away from their manipulative stepsister. So why even use a substitute word? Why not avoid the substitute words all together?!?!

The first time I felt this way was when my senior high school said anyone who uses the F word is just not intelligent enough to express it with other words. I remember pondering about her comment and thinking, that's hard.. .but she may have a point.

Needless to say, it's been refreshing to once again, be cleansed of such biting words and return to days similar to my youth when I knowingly avoided the use of such words. In fact, these days... when I use words like "crap" or "heck," I feel guilty. As if... I have just succumbed, to my weakness of word usage and am admitting defeat in my word battle for honor. Vernacular prowess is not my specialty which makes it no surprise that one of my repetitive prayers is asking for my thoughts, actions and words to be kept pure. I have always felt that thoughts are the hardest... actions are a bit easier... and words should be easiest. And words, for the most part ... are!

These days, you can find me struggling with when things go wrong unexpectedly. Like when I stub my toe, get a papercut or jam my finger, and oh, did I forget-get cut off on the highway. This is when... the habits of my past word usage days sneak up on me. I've gotten better... to the point where no verbal obscenities are vocalized.. but now... the thoughts have become the hard part. I might not say something inappropriate when I get cut off by a mean car.. but inside, my brain thinks the word! The bad word! ACK! DOH! (yes, somehow ack and doh are okay.. maybe because they seem cartoonisque and remind me of Homer Simpson and donuts)

... which leads me to the thought of the day... the substitute that brought a smile to my face.

You see... even though I loathe substitute words... today was different.

Upon entering the 10 freeway, a car abruptly merged and ALMOST, kid you not, slammed into me. The first thing I thought was "what are you freaking doing?" and outloud, I said "freaking eh car!".... pause.

Silence. ....

And slowly.. a small chuckle emerged.

And then I started smiling! Yes - it was a substitute... but it was so instantaneous that I knew, a year ago... instead of a "freaking" thought, my thoughts may have been more ill laced.

And that... brought a smile to my face.

It is true. Things seem hard, but you work at it... and they become easier. And then, when it still seems impossible, you pray about it and ask for strength, and you keep working at it... and eventually, it really does become easier. Maybe it's because of the persistent nature of keeping at it... maybe it's the help of Heavenly Father... maybe it's both. Regardless, I am so grateful for the experience and though I'm still working on avoiding substitute words all together, I'm so happy for this small moment of a substitute word in my life.

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