Friday, September 14, 2007


A stake high counselor spoke to our ward on Sunday about how the way we speak reflects who we are inside. Perhaps I liked his talk so much because I love words… especially writing them. I can say the exact thing I want to say in the exact way I want to say it. If I write something illogical or grammatically odious I can backspace until all evidence is destroyed.

How I wish real life was like that. When I say something mean or muddle up my words, wouldn’t it be nice to right-click delete? I am a far less graceful in person than I am on paper. Sometimes I feel clumsy when trying to hold an actual conversation. And on the cell phone… a downright failure.

But really, how does the way I speak—or more importantly the words I choose to use— reflect who I am inside? I remember in high school a few of my girlfriends and I experimented with a few naughty words to prove that we weren’t as Mary Tyler Moore as we looked. I’m sure any person lucky enough to catch us mid-blaspheme would be more inclined to howl with laughter than be offended. We could never make the words sound convincing enough and eventually tossed the cause. We were trying to be something we were not.

This does not mean I shun all bad words. I find a good “damn” or “hell” appropriate and even necessary if used well and sparingly. I have a friend who is the picture of Clorox clean. She was an EFY counselor and a missionary, but also one of the more hilarious people I have met. She was relaying a story about how she was on a date and accidentally peed her pants in the middle of a goodnight kiss (I could relate more than I care to admit…. but I’ll save that for another blog). Anyhow, I was doubled over laughing as she was reenacting the episode and narrating what was going through her mind mid-stream. When the “d-word” slipped out of her mouth I hit the floor. It was the crowning glory of the chronicle. It was unexpected. It was brilliant.

So I admit, I mix a little dog poop in with my brownie batter. Don’t tell anyone (or sample any of my baked goods). But for the most part I try to radiate who I am with the topics I choose to speak about or the words that leave my mouth. There is a great deal of room to improve, though.

The Sunday speaker also talked about how it is easy to identify if a marriage likely to fail by the tone of voice one spouse uses to another. If one partner consistently sounds reproaching or superior when speaking to the other, chances are that the marriage will end in divorce. This had been statistically proven. Scary, huh? Sometimes it is not what one says but how one chooses to say it that makes all the difference. I am so grateful to a husband who speaks to me lovingly and kindly (and often relentlessly teasingly) and I hope that I do the same. It’s something for me to watch for when the inevitable differences arise.

Speaking of words… I think I’ve used my quota for this entry.


Janssen said...

I think one reason I try to avoid "bad words" completely is that it's such a powerful statement to other peopleabout who you are. People might not be able to tell from talking to you that you are a full tithe payer or that you try to be a good neighbor or you sacrifice personal time and effort for a church calling, but the words you use will quickly give them a picture of who you are and what kind of person you're trying to be.

I'm always really disappointed when I hear an LDS person swear; there is absolutely no reason to do so and it just leaves an impression of the Church and Mormons that is, in my book, incorrect and unfortunate.

Words are powerful - anyone who says otherwise is fooling themself.

Bart Bradshaw said...


I find this entry interesting. Jared and I have discussed it before as well. I can't remember what his position is, but for me, it seems so easy of a thing to avoid swear words altogether. It's kind of like the law of tithing. It's very black and white and controllable. Pay your 10% tithing, be blessed. Don't swear, be blessed.

If you're arguing that D- and H- are not swear words (and I think Jared may have been arguing that), you may have some solid footing. If you're saying that those are swear words and yet you still don't mind saying or hearing them for the right comic effect, that's where you lose me.

Before I go on, I want you to know that I think you're probably miles ahead of me in all sorts of categories (charity, humility, etc.). I'm not comparing us or anything, just discussing perspectives.

For me, the most difficult part of the Plan has been finding the right things to do when there are gray areas - morally ambiguous things.

Movies, for example, are packed with good and bad things. Is it bad to watch a PG-13 movie that makes you want to be a better person? What if that PG-13 movie also has disturbing things in it, but I'm willing to watch in order to get the over-arching moral of the story (we just finished season 3 of 24, by the way, and I loved it! Yet there were definitely times I cringed, times I didn't feel as good, and times I felt really good . . . blah, blah)

[Back to the main issue of this very lengthy comment:]

Deciding what movies to watch is difficult because it's never obvious what the outcome will be, nor what you have to go through to get there. Ends don't always justify the means, etc.

In a world of moral ambiguity, I've come to really treasure those few issues that are controllable and clear cut. They're the only things I feel totally comfortable with.

I can think of several very righteous people that swear occasionally. There's always the example of J. Golden Kimball, too. I wonder if he wasn't chastened a bit when he got to Heaven. Not because it was a big sin, but because it was a little thing that caused thousands of people to use his example as justification. Does that make his deeds worse? I'm not sure. I think everyone is responsible for their own behavior, and justifying your behavior because of someone else doesn't absolve you of guilt. Nor does it necessarily make clear whether or not the sin is on the heads of those who made that justification possible and easy.

Anyway, this is getting to be too long, and could possibly be misconstrued as chastisement, when it's not meant to be that at all. Janssen and I were just having a conversation about it and so we had some things to say.

Janssen said...

Bart said he thought the last sentence of my comment was a little harsh, so let me clarify. When I said that words were powerful, I was just agreeing with you that words have a big impact (like destroying a marriage, for instance, like you mentioned). I wasn't being critical. :)

Anonymous said...

John Gottman is the one who did the research on the how a couple speaks to each other is a good predictor of divorce. That is the book I gave you and Ryan before you got married. As such, I will take credit that you two speak to each other nicely. (hehehe)
I am always amazed in marriage therapy how mean couples speak to each other. On the first session I ask them for a commitment for no more "below the belt" comments to each other.
I love reading your blog. Thanks for letting me into your heart through your words.


Kristy said...

Last night we went to an Arapahoe football game and as we were leaving, I got surrounded by teenage boys trying out their potty mouths. It was terrible. And in my mind they instantly became alien and unknowable to me. That's probably mostly my problem and I shouldn't be so judgmental, but I do think it can instantly classify you (not you, people) to other people when your vocabulary is so limited. I loved this post!

Dana said...

BETHANY! I found a great website that sells all of the old music that we listened to when we were really little. Do you remember...Grandpa-pa- Grandpa-pa, I love my Grandpa-pa so...And the Safety Kids and Standing Tall, All of those??? I am going to buy them for Jett. I downloaded a few of the songs and he loves them. Anyway Check it out...It's fun ...

Abbie said...

Sometimes, I admit it is hard not to form an opinion on someone based on the way they speak.
But, most of my closest friends now are people that I never thought I'd get along with at first impression. I think if everyone took the time to find common ground first and shelf differences you'll find that there's more to that book than the cover.
I just believe that people, especially Christians develop at different paces in their relationship with God. Maybe that Christian who still uses bad language has not yet matured enough. We were all babes at one time, you gotta crawl before you walk.

Also I have always thought that a man who is the head of the household speaking lovingly and respectfully to his wife is the best picture of harmony.
I'm happy you are living that life. Wish you guys all the best.

Stephanie said...

Personally, I never really think swearing is bad...maybe to some it is but to each their own. I think the bigger problem is how people percieve you when you gossip, compare yourself to others, belittle others, judge others, and try to inflict your views as being supreme. Living where I do, I have realized that a few Damns and Hells really aren't that big of a problem in the scheme of things...I would much rather hear that from someone's mouth, than someone saying that another person was "bad" for swearing or watching a rated 'r' movie or something....

Bethany said...

Hey to you too Beth! I definitely recommend a Nikon or Canon dSLR; you could probably find a used Nikon D40 or a Canon XTi for under $400, but new they are normally a little more. (But good starters and great value!!) I actually started on a Pentax istDL and it was perfect to learn on. But when I upgraded I felt I needed to choose a more common brand so it would be easier to come by, so I got a Nikon d80. You could, in fact, buy a camera body only (try or amazon) and then buy a lens separate. You'll find that Kit lenses are great, but you eventually want more. If you can get the camera and kit lens together for a good deal though, I'd buy it. Anyway, I could go on and on, but hopefully those recommendations help! It's true that it's a foreign language. Read a lot of reviews and wikipedia pages! haha! I still have so much to learn myself, but it's so much fun. Keep me posted and write me anytime!

Jessie said...

you are such a great writer, bethany! i just love reading your posts. I've decided to start a blog. It won't be nearly as interesting as yours. love ya!

Bethany said...

OOooohhhh, I'm sorry! Ya, the S5 is a great cam! I have only ever owned a few basic point-&-shoots and then my dSLR (plus a few film cameras), so I don't know a lot about the mid-range; but I do know that they give you the ability to get creative as an SLR would, but in a more compact body. I love CNET's reviews, and it gets a 7.4 out of 10, which is a high score. If you take a beginner class, that camera would be perfect. It allows you to change your shutter speed (freezing motion) and aperture (blurry backgrounds), ISO (amount of light to enter camera), it has continuous shooting (so many pics in a row!), 8 megapixels (plenty big), and auto focus & exposure (you just want those!). You can't go wrong with Canon really! However, if you plan to upgrade to an SLR at all within the next few years, you might think twice about forking out big bucks, but if you don't plan on that, honestly, the S5 is perfect. I hope that helps!! Let me know how it goes!!

Bethany said...

P.S. I don't want to sway you in a bad direction, so just read a few reviews and compare it to other cams, and then if you have terminology questions, just google the terms. I've learned a lot from google and wikipedia. :)

T & H Jenson Family said...

I LOVED THIS POST! I am teaching R.S. on Sunday about a happy and successfull marriage and I want to use your last paragraph! Is that cool? Where did you read that? Let me know. I can't wait to hear the peeing pants story!...

T & H Jenson Family said...

I put this on my comments, so I am sending it here too!

Thank you so much! I know I feel stupid teaching just about ALL THE TIME! I think, everyone probably thinks that I am the biggest hypocrite! Any extra info I can get is always helpful. I know that were all not perfect but teaching is hard. I am very happily married so I guess I have that going for me....I hope we both do well! :)

I think Emma is pretty dang cute if I do say so myself....and your little boy! OH MY! Girls watch out!