"Deanna, this is about your use of the F-word with the youth group."
Oh my stars.
My heart was racing at least twice as fast and I was feeling relieved in one sense (because I knew in my heart I had not done such a thing) yet racing ahead to think, "why? how? who has accused me of such a thing and would I be believed that I was not guilty of this?"
I gulped and said, "Pastor, I promise you I have never used the F-word with the youth group or anyone in this church for that matter, I do not use this word with friends outside the church either."
He looked at me and said, "well, one of the youth parents is quite sure you have -- actually heard you do such and is very upset."
I was racking my brain to think how they could have EVER remotely misconstrued things to the point of saying I had used the F-word. It would have been a misunderstanding at the very least.
The pastor continued, convinced I had done so and finally I said, "Pastor, I think there may be a lack of understanding as to what the F-word actually IS. I have never used it here in the terms as I understand it, but perhaps the F-word is not the same to everyone everywhere. If I may be so bold, can I ask you what F-word you are referring to?"
He took a deep breath...looked down at the floor...and said, "fart."
I couldn't help it.
Talk about a disconnect in communication! This was a huge one.
Well, I was totally guilty of using THAT F-word. I used it many times when the youth choir would be fooling around, not getting anything done, doing too much talking and goofing around and not enough time listening to my directions, I would clap or blow my whistle that I carried at the time to bring a big group of teens back to focus and I would quip, "Hey everyone, let's quit farting around and get back to focus here!" I didn't realize a mom of one of the teens who had walked in and listened in on rehearsals a few times really took offense to this. She considered it "the F word" and told the pastor so, and asked that something be done about my behavior.
The pastor asked me not to use the word any more. I asked him what he would like me to say instead and he suggested the word, "fluff."
A lot of years have passed between then and now. We are lead pastors now and it's our son Dustin who directs the youth fine arts ministries of our church. I suggested to him to make things in his ministry a lot simpler that he hold closed rehearsals to avoid helicopter parents who over-react to things that are really of no consequence. If I had the option to have closed rehearsals back then, I would have. Dustin does this and it makes things a lot easier. Not that he's doing anything wrong - he's a great leader - but it definitely makes things smoother not having parents circling when he's trying to lead a rehearsal.
He doesn't use the F-word any more than his parents do...unless you consider forgiveness, freak, fluff, fantastic, fabulous or well, yes...fart... the "F-word." :P