Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Just Meaningless. Or is it?

I've paid some great amount of attention recently to my own speech patterns and language choices: what words I use, how often I use them, etc, and I've frequently noticed that the word "just" has really just crept into my vocabulary just a bit, and I just use it a little too often. That's just what I think, anyway, and so it seems like it has become just meaningless. But has it really?

My rather public affair with the word "just" first saw light perhaps two years ago while assisting in a teacher workshop. I was helping one of the teachers do something, saying "just click here and just do that" when she [more or less] jokingly pointed out to me that, yes, for me it may be "just" do this and that, but for her it wasn't always that obvious. To clarify, she wasn't getting upset, but it was a revelation to me nonetheless that I do tend to diminutise tasks that I consider trivially or, at least, relatively, easy; If something's simple to me, I consciously or unconsciously assume it must also be simple for everyone else. And so I command someone "just click here and change this setting", because of course I've done it a hundred times, but I'm working hard to remember that doesn't mean the other person has any clue whatsoever.

In addition to the outward expressions of affection for "just", I've discovered it and I have a secret relationship in my prayer life, as well: "Just" has crept into my prayer vernacular and takes every opportunity it can to jump out and assert itself. But I realised something, and now I've concluded that I think it's okay for "just" to be so closely bonded with my prayers: overused as it may be, it may never be meaningless in a prayer setting. In the same sense that I use "just" out loud when discussing something I think is simple, any situation I could possibly be praying about must be so simple, so absolutely trivial to God, that to say "just" remains perfectly applicable.

This came to my mind some number of weeks ago when I first made the voice note that spawned this journal entry: I heard a siren, and I've gotten into the habit that, when I hear a siren, I always say a little prayer for the people in need and for the emergency crew helping them: "Lord, I just pray that you would be in that situation, that you would just be with them".

You may have noticed two sneaky little "just"s lurking in there: The first is used in the sense that it's so simple for me to pray–10 seconds and I'm done. Quick, easy, simple, painless. That's one of the amazing things about believing in a personal Deity and having a direct line of communication. The second "just" in there, I believe, is valid because it is a reminder of the fact that this situation I'm praying about remains something so incomprehensibly small for a God of the universe, and yet I believe that God still cares. God's just awesome like that–another use of "just", this time to exemplify something far above and beyond the ordinary.

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