Life from Here to There

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“Just” for Fun

This is just a post. Maybe it’s just for fun. You could just read it and see for yourself. You just might get something out of it. You just might enjoy it.

There is a four-letter word that when applied can instantly, drastically trivialize whatever important verbiage that proceeds its placement in any given sentence. I believe this word is one of the most overused words in our vocabulary and we don’t realize the implications and weight our words carry when we use it. While you may shrug it off as inconsequential, I urge you to think how much more bold your words would be if you removed it from your vocabulary or at least reduced its usage.

A four-letter word

The four-letter word I speak of is the word just. Most of you picked up on it in the opening paragraph. Either you noticed the pattern or overuse or you are perceptive enough and figured it out by the title alone. Perhaps you did not pick up on it, and that’s alright. Take a moment and reread the opening paragraph with new insight. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Got it? Good, let’s move on. According to the dictionary, one of the many meanings of the word just, as an adverb, is “simply; only; no more than” and while this is one of the lower graded meanings, it has the potential to render the greatest repercussions when used. If you take a moment and read the additional meanings, they are all exacting and have little room for interpretation.

  • exactly – “That’s just what I needed.”
  • very recently; in the immediate past – “I just saw a dog walk past.”
  • barely; by a little – “I just made it on time.”
  • expressing agreement – “I spilled it.” “You didn’t just did you?”

Now let’s take a quick moment and explore a few examples of the aforementioned meaning in the paragraph above.

  • “It’s just an argument.”
  • “It’s just a loan.”
  • “It’s just a dent.”
  • “It’s just …… “

Many times we use just to justify a bad decision or downplay a difficult situation. When you say it to a friend, co-worker, student, player, doctor, or anyone, your intentions may be pure, but that doesn’t change how easily misinterpreted, belittling, and hurtful it can be. Think about when someone told you “it’s just [fill in the blank with your situation]. It’ll be okay,” and how you felt. Chances are it hurt and made you feel less than important to the person speaking.

Personally speaking

For me personally I first started to notice that I used just frequently in my prayers.

Dear God, just help me do better. Thank you for just keeping us safe. Thank you for just blessing us. I pray that you just continue to teach me and train me. I pray that I would just say yes when you ask.

That is only a small portion of a prayer I would pray daily, but all five sentences contain the word just. How about when I talk to my 12U girls softball team?

Are you okay? It’s just a little [scratch/bruise/mark]. You’ll be okay. You’re tougher than you think. You just need to walk it off. You need to just stay in there if you can. If you can’t, just let me know.

A short conversation and the word was used four times. That, to me, is a bit excessive and overused. It doesn’t provide value and only works to undervalue the conversation entirely. One more example. When I speak to my wife, how much do I hurt and undervalue her emotions when I use just?

Why are you upset? It’s just a little argument. I was just trying to help you fix it. They’re just being dumb. Why don’t you just forget about it? I would if it was me, but that’s just me.

For starters, I was not needed to fix the situation, but that’s a post for another time. Secondly, how do you think she feels when I constantly put down the situation with my words? If you said “not valued” you would be correct. For the record, another five times the word just was used.

That was then, this is now

Over the past few years, I have been working diligently to eliminate the word from my everyday word usage. I see it as a filler word and if I am required to use it, then perhaps I should choose better words to use. Where it really has played a major role is in how I pray. I mentioned before that I noticed it being most prevalent in my prayers and it made me how I pray. I don’t want to minimize my relationship with God and what He means to me. He is my Lord and Savior and deserves to be placed at the center of my life. In order for me to do that, I needed to get rid of the word just and focus on the words that matter. I desperately wanted to express how I truly felt and I could not do that with just in my prayers.

I understand that the above situation may not apply to everyone. Here is what I would offer to you. Where are you being casual with your words, specifically the word just? Where are you diminishing your conversations and relationships with your words? Words are not like yo-yos. Once they’re out, there’s no taking them back.

I told you, this is just a post. It’s what you do next that makes the difference.

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