Why I don’t like the word “just”

“Why I don’t like the word just

Yesterday on Instagram I wrote, “Sometimes you just need a nudge. (I hate the word “just”. Try again). / sometimes a nudge is helpful to go further than you thought you could.”

I probably need to explain why the word “just” annoys me.

Because it’s often used as shorthand for a simple (but really hard) action.

We forget that there is one continuum from simple to complicated and another continuum from easy to hard. But they are not the same line. We can have things that are simple and hard, simple and easy, complicated and hard, and complicated and easy.

And we forget that each of those ends benefits from a human context. Easy for whom? Complicated for whom?

Because what is simple for me may not be for you. And the other way around.

So if I say, “It’s simple. You just do this,” what I mean is “I find this simple because with my experience and skills and perspective, this action takes little energy or thought.” And what I often don’t remember is that for another person, there may be many steps and complications. And what is easy for you, may be very hard for me.

Sometimes in the middle of very hard moments, someone says, “Just trust Jesus.”

I’m more likely to say, “This is a very hard moment. And with what you’ve been taught about Jesus fixing everything, for me to say ‘just trust Jesus’ will feel like a slap. After all, ‘just trusting Jesus’ feels like it didn’t do anything as you look at your daughter’s body. So, I’ll trust that Jesus is here and knows and instead of saying anything at all, I’ll hold your hand and cry a bit and let you cry too.”

Or, more likely, I’ll say all that inside my head, as I hold a hand. And trust Jesus.

One thought on “Why I don’t like the word “just”

  1. Audrey

    Very poignantly said, Jon. I really admire how you can say so much with so few words, and especially how you refrain from saying words that may hurt rather than help.

    My own distaste for the word “just” is how it is used so often, in an empty way like fluffy filler, in modern Christian prayer, like this “Lord, would you just come and be here with us, and will you just hear our prayers, and would you just bless us…” ad nauseam. Like you said, using the word “just” for such complex requests seems silly. On the other hand, “With God, all things are possible”!

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed