I can’t lie. I don’t like big buts. Yet so many times this conjunction is tossed around so much it gets wasted to the point of being intolerable. And then when just an itty bit of waste gets in front of me, it becomes one big but. And it gets rounded out to be a justified but. When this happens, I want to just pull out the grammar Nazi in me and explain the purpose of the conjunction.
The conjunction but is a linking word that sets up a contrasting clause after the first clause. This is the case in a statement like “I wanted to buy chocolate but they were all out of it at the store.” Instead, the word but has become big in being used as an excuse.
Many times people use a but in life to set up an excuse rather than an explanation. One big but I see and hear a lot is “I’m spiritual, but…” and then sort of statement as to why a person doesn’t like church or organized religion is used. In high school and college I heard “You’re such a nice guy and I like you but only as a friend.” (which never felt good no matter how nicely it was stated). People use buts today to sit on as an excuse.
When this conjunction is used in such a way, it negates all that was said before. Any and everything good that might have been said before the but is blown out the window and now just stinks to high heaven. It’s become worthless. The reason why is that anything and everything said after the conjunction of but is the excuse to why the previous statement/clause can’t be done or isn’t done. And the excuses become rank.
The sad thing is, is that we’ve not only gotten used to the misuse of this conjunction, but we’ve come to expect it. There have been times where I’ve given a compliment to someone or stated how much I appreciate what they’ve done. The person stands there for a moment and then will sometimes say “…but?” and then are a bit surprised when I don’t have one. It’s as if we expect to have buts tossed around when a compliment is given or when a statement is said. We expect big buts to be seen when people talk to us.
And I don’t like that. There are so many buts in life. “I’d really want to help you out but I have this thing tomorrow.” “I was going tell him I was hurt by what he said but I couldn’t remember his phone number.” “I was going to go to the gym but I accidentally made the wrong turn three times and drove passed the donut shop.”
The but leads to an excuse. And it is an excuse that can hurt others. You can say the nicest thing to someone, but as soon as you show your but to them, it negates all that you said and has ruined the whole problem.
Stop it with the buts.
In other words, don’t use excuses. Don’t make excuses. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. Speak the truth in love. Be willing to be honest with someone. When you’re honest with someone, it helps build up the relationship. When you just make excuses instead, it harms the relationship.
This is more so true when it comes to following Jesus. “I was going to take time to pray, but…I was too busy…I didn’t wake up in time…I’m behind on my Bible schedule and just can’t catch up…(fill in the blank).”
Not just that, but then we’ll add a “yeah but” to the conversation.
We hear “Jesus loves you, you have forgiveness in Him.” And we respond with “Yeah, but…why do good people have to go to hell if they don’t follow Him…why would a God of love doom me to hell for not following Jesus…Christians are so judgmental about everyone…I like your Jesus I don’t like your Christians.”
The “yeah but” becomes not only a negation of what is said, it becomes a retort and an offensive weapon to destroy what is being offered. It is a blockade. It is a tactical juke to the right. And not only does the but gets in the way, a yeah but destroys any idea of it in the first place.
These big buts hurt. They hurt the ones who use them. They hurt the ones having the buts used against them.
Stop using buts. Speak the truth in love. Break down the yeah buts in life and be willing to open yourself up to the leading of Jesus in your life. He doesn’t take excuses. Instead, He answers each one and gives you an alternative. Toss the buts and take the alternative. It’ll be a whole new thing when you do.
(and please forgive all the bad puns in here)