Ever wondered what the most annoying word in the English language is? You don’t have to wonder any longer. Marist College recently conducted a poll of a cross-section of Americans from all walks of life.

 According to Kiro7’s report of this poll, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans surveyed found “whatever” to be the most annoying word we use.

During this survey, “whatever” easily beat out “you know,” which especially grated a quarter of respondents. The other annoying contenders were “anyway” (at 7 percent), “it is what it is” (11 percent) and “at the end of the day” (2 percent).

Whatever” — pronounced “WHAT’-ehv-errr” when exasperated — is an expression with staying power. The Kiro7 report goes on to state that “whatever” was immortalized in song by Nirvana (“oh well, whatever, nevermind”) in 1991, popularized by the Valley girls in “Clueless” later that decade, it is still commonly used, often by younger people.

It can be an all-purpose argument-ender or a signal of apathy. And it can really be annoying. The poll found “whatever” to be consistently disliked by Americans regardless of their race, gender, age, income or where they live.

People saying it are signaling “non-importance” to what you are saying. It feels rude and dismissive. It implies ignorance – especially when delivered at the end of what you thought was a friendly debate or discussion. It signals that the speaker had no better retort. Or it signals that nothing you had to say matters.

It can be different

We live in a society which is becoming more and more rude and disrespectful of each other. This is never more prevalent than right after a national election where people on both sides are guilty of rudeness.

This same attitude is not slipping into our church or school is it? Surely not. We are never rude or unkind to those who think differently than we do…right?

However, in the Christian context “whatever” can be, if we so choose, the defining word of the Christian life.

While few other words carry the same potential for dismissive rudeness, no other word holds the same potential for all-out surrender and steadfast faith.

This word can signal a move from a “what if” faith to a “whatever” faith.

If the Holy Spirit convicts you that you are guilty in your sins, reply, “Whatever you say, Lord, I repent and accept the sacrifice of your Son who atoned for them.”

If you are in the midst of a trial you know is going to hurt, say, “Whatever comes, I know my faith will be made strong through trials, and that I can do all things through your strength.”

When you don’t know what the future holds, say, “Whatever it is, you deserve glory and honor and praise. Bring it on!”

 Whatever in Scripture

The apostle Paul was the master of “whatever.” To wit:

Phil. 4:11: I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

1 Cor. 10:31: Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Gal. 6:7: Whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Eph. 6:8: Whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.

Phil. 4:8: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

In the face of struggles, including this pandemic, remember three things:

  1. Whatever comes your way, be prayerful.
  2. Whatever happens on your journey, be kind, gracious and long-suffering.
  3. Whatever happens, remember, Jesus is here with you, even in the midst of a pandemic storm.