I’m going to do something a bit…bold.   I’m going to talk about words I don’t like, or rather, words that I struggle with.  I think that is more accurate.  I struggle with these words for a variety of reasons.  Maybe it’s not cool for a seminarian to struggle with these words.  Or maybe I just need to get this off my chest because it seems that there are plenty of others who don’t struggle with the same words – it seems like so many people have a much greater ease in using some of the words I’m about to list.  I’d be curious to hear what words you struggle with.

– Fair.  I admit it.  I don’t like the word fair.  I feel like it is overused.  Fair gets thrown around like it’s a cure-all for all the world’s problems.  “If only everything was fair.”  Well, guess what – life isn’t fair.  I can’t recall Jesus ever talking about anything being fair – I could be wrong on that though.  Did Jesus say “I came to make things fair?” I’m not researching this, but just shooting from the hip here.  People have different definitions for fair – maybe that’s part of what I struggle with.  What do they mean by fair?  Do they mean equal outcomes, equal starts? Do they mean equal?  Do they mean something else?

– Justice.  Oh the horror of a future Lutheran pastor not liking the word justice.  I’m sorry I don’t like the word and I struggle with it.  Again, I feel like it is thrown around too lightly.  People use the word in a variety ways, but never define what they mean by it.  I’ve tried defining in it in past posts, but still struggle with it.  To me justice is a legal term – and not always a positive term either.  I remember hearing a speaker talk about justice once in a very powerful way. He said something like this – Watch out when someone talks about justice – someone’s going to die or something is going to be destroyed.  That statement made an impact on me.  And I can see the truth in this statement too.  Justice is a scary thing and for me, not a word I use very often because it seems so heavy.

– Social Justice.  It’s a phrase I struggle with because of my past in politics.  When I hear the term, I immediately associate it with a particular political ideology.  My struggle with the term relates to my a bigger struggle within myself – the relationship between religion and politics.  Having lived in the world of politics, I have seen political people use religious people for their own political purposes.  And when they are done with them, they get thrown under the bus.  History is full of these examples.

– Impossible.  What a terrible word.  I struggle with this word because it’s just so….final.  It closes discussion, it closes possibility.  It shuts down everything.  It’s a powerful word meant to be used to maintain the current order of things.  Except here’s the problem with it – change is the only constant.  Therefore, impossible is impossible.

– Freedom.  Freedom is similar to Social Justice – it gets used by a particular political ideology often.  Again, the struggle for me comes from my own struggle to figure out the relationship between religion and politics.  It’s a great sounding word on the surface, just like Social Justice, but what is really meant by it?  And again, I see political people use religious people with this phrase too, usually with not-so-good results.

There are more words I struggle with, but I think these are the big ones.  The point of this is not to condemn anyone else for using the terms I listed – I hope I didn’t come off as judgmental.  These are words I struggle with and will continue to struggle with.  I don’t know that I will ever be comfortable with these terms and that’s ok.  That’s part of what makes like interesting and frustrating at the same time.

Thankfully, there is another term, that I do like, but I hope I don’t overuse or abuse – grace.  It’s a word I’ve gotten familiar with over the last few years.  It’s something that helps me in so many ways, especially with words I struggle with.