I’ve been thinking about this word often in the past week thanks to an Emily Freeman blog post. She is writing daily on her blog during the month of October about living out the art we were created for. If you want to read along with me, you can find all her posts from the month here.
Now back to the word.
Not “just” as in true or right, but “just” as in merely or only.
In Emily’s post, she refers to it as one word that is sabotaging the art we live. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how often I use the word “just” when referring to my work, to this dream of writing, to relationships, to cooking dinner or making coffee. This word has become such a casual part of my vocabulary, and it is no longer helpful.
It is no longer helpful for me to shy away from claiming the art I live every day. It is no longer helpful for me to de-value even mundane tasks because they too make up this whole of a life that is mine.
I have been hiding behind the word “just.” It acts as a filter for me, a filter of other people’s opinions and thoughts. I de-value even the things I love the most, even the acts that make me feel alive in my soul because I’m not sure what other people will think about me. I’m not sure, if stacked up against everyone else’s doings and happenings, that mine are really all that great. So I hide, using “just” as a bunker so I don’t really have to claim what it is I’m doing, what I’m feeling and thinking. It’s a loophole, a cop-out from claiming my life as wonderful and beautiful and a gift.
Let me explain further with a typical scenario that occurs: During the first months of our marriage, Saturday mornings were the one time a week Taylor and I could hang out. No where to be, no alarm clock- just enjoying each other with nothing on the to-do list. On some occasions, I would wake up before Taylor, and begin making breakfast while he was still asleep- coffee, scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fruit salad. Those quiet moments in the morning before the world wakes up are my favorite of the day. After finishing breakfast, I would go wake Taylor up and he would instantly feel loved. He would give me a huge hug and thank me repeatedly for taking care of him and cooking breakfast. Then, we would eat it together and just enjoy being in each other’s presence.
Later in the day, someone asks me what we’ve been up to and this is my response:
“Well, not much, I just made breakfast this morning and then we just kind of hung out with each other.”
Do you hear it? Do you hear how that one word steals away value from a beautiful morning? From beautiful life happening and beautiful relationship being nurtured?
I didn’t just… We didn’t just…
I did. We did.
I did use my hands to lovingly prepare a meal for my husband that would strengthen his body. We did share that meal together, and talk and laugh and hold warm cups of coffee in our hands. We did have fun and play and enjoy each other. We did nurture our relationship by spending time with each other.
It’s one word. Yet, it radically changes the tone and lens through which I see my days.
I’m figuring out what it means to live my life as art in all ways- on days when steps toward big dreams are taken, and on days when I sit and feel like nothing is moving. I’m learning to value my life, to value myself. And that word, for me, changes everything. I am kinder to myself when “just” is not around, so I’m asking it to stay gone.
I don’t think I’ll miss it very much.