to cuss or not to cuss

To cuss or not to cuss, this is the question. In my last post, I substituted the word "behonky" for...someotherword.  And then I started to wonder why.

Why wouldn't I just say that word over here on the blog?  Discretion?  (As one of kind friend suggested.)  Fear?  (Which was my first guess.)  What?

I really don't have a problem with cussing.  I think calling certain words bad words or cuss words is, by and large, a cultural construct.

I mean, why can I say "dam" but not "damn"?  I can call a donkey an ass, right out loud in church.  But my sitter downer?  Nope.  Behonky it is.

There are words that some people think are cuss words, and other people think are fine.  Ask my husband.  He says the word "crap" is a cuss word.  Just as bad as that other cuss word.  Both of which just mean poop anyway.  Which, as far as I know, is perfectly fine to say?  If not, I'm sure y'all will let me know.

Some days I come home carrying a whole bunch of bad stuff, and the nice, acceptable, sanitized words are just not sufficient to express the horror.  And that's when I go to cussing.  And crying in my bathtub.

I know the Bible talks about cursing, but as far as I can tell, cursing is contrasted to blessing.  We're being told to bless and not curse.  Use our words to help other people, and not to hurt them.  Don't do violence to other people with your words, your hands, your life.  This is way bigger than a cussing verse.  It's an abuse verse.

The kind of cussing I'm talking about (like, poopy only, you know, more so) isn't about abusing other people.  It's about describing the harsh realities of life.  Poop, both in reality and metaphorically, is a huge part of it.  These things happen.  They are bad.

And "bad" is a wormy little word with practically no meaning.  And certainly no shock value for the shockingly terrible things that happen in this world.  I need somewhere else to go, linguistically speaking.

As a writer and a thinker and a human being, I want to own the language and use it to express what I experience.  Why can't the bad words be mine?  The bad experiences sure are.

A few years ago, a dear friend of mine stood beside me on one of the worst days of my life and said, "This sucks."  Ten years later, I still remember those two words (one baddish) as one of the best things anybody ever said to me.  I'd call that blessing, and not cursing.  But I know people who would wash their kids' mouths out with soap for saying "this sucks."

I feel a fair amount of freedom in this area.  I really do.

So why don't I just go ahead and cuss on the blog?

Well, mainly I think that if I go ahead and throw one out there, then that one word is what many of my readers will hear, and the rest of the message will get obliterated by concern over that one word.  I can get in all the cussing I need on my own time.  I don't need to make other people crazy with it.  We have bigger fish to fry here.  And I can live with that.

But I realized, while thinking this through, that cussing is a very personal and important freedom for me.  It represents acceptance.  Sounds crazy, I know.  Bear with me.

I jumped/fell/got pushed off the perfect bandwagon a few years ago.  Before that, I was always having to be careful about everything, because so many many many things were bad and unacceptable and potentially loaded with judgment and punishment.

When perfection got me worse than nowhere, I decided to give grace a chance.  I started telling things like they were.  There was cussing.  Because it was just so bad, there were no other words.

The grace thing seemed to work out pretty well between God and me.  God got it, and He loved me all the time.  Even when life was cuss-worthy, and I said so.

After a while, I started wondering if other people could have that kind of grace for me, too.  To call poop poop when life was poopy.

And that's when the cussing went just a little bit public.  Just with the people I really wanted to be close to.  Not because I wanted to offend my nearest and dearest.  But because cussing is a quick and easy test.   If I can't cuss with you, I'm going to have to censor everything else too.  It's good for me to know that up front.

Can you handle who I really am?  What I really think?  How I really feel?  

Is it OK to be myself, even if I'm a little bit ugly?  Am I acceptable to you when I am less than perfect?

Or do I have to spend all my time figuring out what your rules are, so you won't be offended by my pain, my anger, my mistakes, my imperfections?

Those are the real questions.

And to my loveys, well, y'all know the cussing is the snowflake on the very tippy top of the ice berg.  And somehow you manage to love me anyway.

And, with your love, things are significantly less poopy.  Maybe, at some point, I will need less of the cuss words.  Thank you for your patience, meanwhile. You are grace to me.

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