All posts by Justine Buss

About Justine Buss

Justine Buss is a theatre practitioner, writer, wife, and mother currently based in Toronto. She was born and raised in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania and studied theatre and English at Muhlenberg College. She spent her professional career working with young people in theatre and is now a full time stay at home mom. She is married to Reverend Jared Buss and is mama to an effervescent one and a half year old with a second kiddo expected in early spring 2017. She loves doing crafts, singing, writing her first ever young adult novel, and going on adventures with her family. Being married to a minister means not necessarily knowing where she will be living in the not too distant future, which is both exciting and exhausting. She tries very hard to make herself at home with her family wherever they happen to be. Being able to write and connect with others from anywhere makes this a lot easier.

OMG

If “OMG” were a spice, it would be salt. It’s in everything.

From “Oh my god, that dress looks great on you” to “Oh my god, can you believe gas prices?” people seem to throw “OMG” into just about any sentence. It’s a one-size-fits-all exclamation that is as pervasive as “um” or “like.”

And it troubles me. So much so that even writing it out gives me pause. I don’t capitalize the word “god” in these contexts because it doesn’t seem like the Lord is really any part of the subject matter. I was always taught that saying “OMG” in a casual way is taking the Lord’s name in vain—using the Lord’s name without any true, reverent thought of Him was breaking the second commandment. As an adult, after studying the Word and the Heavenly Doctrines, it seems pretty clear to me that the casual use of OMG is problematic and we shouldn’t say it carelessly (my emphasis below):

You are not to take the name of Jehovah your God in vain, for Jehovah will not hold anyone guiltless, who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7)

Taking the name of Jehovah God in vain means in the natural or literal sense the misuse of the name itself in all sorts of conversation, especially false statements or lies, and in swearing without good cause, or in order to avoid being blamed, in evil intentions, which are curses, and in witchcraft and spells. (True Christianity 297)

In the spiritual sense the name of God means the whole of the church’s teaching taken from the Word, and through which the Lord is invoked and worshipped. Therefore taking the same of God in vain means using anything from this source in idle talk, false statements, lies, curses, witchcraft and spells; for this too is slandering and blaspheming God, and so His name. (True Christianity 298)

I guess what I’m focusing on here is the “idle talk” referred to in True Christianity 298. I’m not talking about deliberately disrespecting the Lord’s name. That’s more obviously wrong. I’m more concerned with the way people throw OMG around in an unintentional and thoughtless manner.

After some Googling on the subject, I found that other Christian groups are troubled by the OMG phenomenon, so this isn’t just a New Church thing. On the other hand, some people seem to think that “OMG” just doesn’t mean what it used to, so we shouldn’t worry about it. Sort of how “literally” used to be mean the opposite of “figuratively” and now they are considered synonyms. Language does crazy things over time. To many people, “OMG” is just another way of saying “Wow!” or “Are you kidding me?” and we shouldn’t give it a second thought.

Well I have given it much more than a second thought. I flinch every time I hear someone utter OMG in a way that seems irreverent. But that’s part of the problem—it seems irreverent. How do I know? Sure, I know plenty of atheists who use OMG regularly and I wonder what it is they think they’re saying. But I don’t think they intend to be irreverent. Maybe they say it just because it’s something that people say. It might be thoughtless and a misuse of the Lord’s name, but I don’t think it is typically an intentional slight to God or to those who believe in Him.

But what about people who believe in and love God? Who am I to say that someone doesn’t enjoy a very chummy kind of relationship with the Lord (as they understand Him) and that they really do think of the Lord whenever they slip OMG into conversation? It’s possible. Maybe I shouldn’t flinch as reflexively as I do.

I guess what troubles me the most is being uncertain of what to do about this phenomenon where the “G” in “OMG” seems essentially meaningless to most speakers. Since I can’t judge another person’s relationship to the Lord, it is hard for me to speak up about my discomfort even when close (non-New Church) friends use OMG in everyday conversation. It feels wrong to stay silent, but it also feels wrong to speak up when I can’t know a person’s mind or heart.

I’m not sure what there is to do besides live by example and not use the Lord’s name in this way. That’s better than nothing, but it does little to ease my concern about how this excessive use of OMG came to be socially acceptable and how this trend might affect people’s ability to connect with the Lord. After all, when we call someone by name, we’re referring to the whole person and not just a label. Saying someone’s name is fundamentally an effort to make contact with that person. And knowing how to connect with God is the greatest gift there is.

Do phrases like OMG trouble you? Why or why not? Have any of you had any breakthroughs in navigating our OMG culture in your relationships with people who may or may not be a part of the New Church? How do you handle the use of OMG in your home or workplace? How do you establish boundaries about this phrase being used in your presence? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Tell The Truth

Lately, my kids have been making me think a lot about truth. My two-year-old isn’t always very good at telling the truth. It’s always a little startling when your innocent baby figures out how to lie, but I’ve realized that it actually makes a lot of sense. She doesn’t tell the truth when she doesn’t want something to be true. For example, it’s a struggle getting her to admit to having a dirty diaper. She doesn’t want to be changed, so she pretends that her diaper is clean. Continuing to play is a far more pleasant prospect than having Mommy vigorously wipe smelly stuff off her bum. I don’t really blame her for reimagining reality in cases like this, but still, she has to learn to tell the truth, even when she doesn’t want to.

Just writing that out is a bit of an eye-opener: we have to tell the truth, even if we don’t want it to be true. It’s humbling to realize how often I have to relearn this same lesson. There are all sorts of untruths I tell myself because the reality doesn’t always seem terribly appealing. I bet you can relate to this too. Here are just a few things that come to mind for me:

I deserve a treat for all of my hard work today. “Deserve” is a pretty strong word. There is nothing wrong with rewarding oneself for a job well done, but for me at least, a “treat” usually means junk food. I might be rewarding my taste buds, but I’m punishing the rest of my body. That’s not much of a treat in the long run. On top of that, this kind of thinking typically omits honoring the Lord’s part in all of my successes. I’m not deserving. Not really. I just have the most amazing Heavenly Father helping me out. All the time. That in itself is actually a beautiful reality, but one I manage to ignore far too often. Continue reading Tell The Truth

David Was a Giant Too

When I let my emotions build up into an unstable tower that inevitably crashes down on me, I am crushed. When I wake up in the morning and my to do list looms large, I want to curl up in a ball under the covers and never come out. When I open my computer and discover that there has been another natural disaster or act of senseless violence, I feel myself shrinking in the face of such pain.

There is a lot out there that’s big: Huge storms, Massive acts of terror, Mega doubts and fears on a personal and global scale. The list of enormous things to worry about is itself truly gargantuan. And these monsters can make me feel so tiny and trivial, until I remember that the Lord is in charge, and He dwarfs them all.

The Lord is so pervasive and so profoundly present in all things that I can forget He’s there, which is crazy because He truly is the biggest thing there is. He is everything good and true and wonderful in this world and beyond. And you know what’s even crazier? He took the time to make us. He made me. This all-knowing, ever-present almighty Creator took the care and attention to make simple, seemingly insignificant me. Sure, it is no great feat for someone so powerful to make a human being, but the fact that He chooses to make each of us in His own image and keeps doing it, no matter how much we mess up the world, means that we matter. We truly matter. And that makes us big too. Continue reading David Was a Giant Too

Teething

A couple weeks before Christmas, we were getting ready to host a long-anticipated cocktail party at our house. My husband and I were a great team trying to get Christmas lights up, clean the house, and prep food for the occasion. Unfortunately, our toddler’s molars decided to make a ferocious push for the surface and we had to juggle a miserable little girl on top of all of the chores. We felt helpless. We kept giving her homeopathy and snuggles whenever we could, but sometimes she was completely inconsolable. Our usually cheerful munchkin was as fragile as could be and even though I was anticipating a festive event that evening, I could feel myself fraying at the edges. She skipped her nap entirely—something she hadn’t done for months, so she was completely exhausted on top of the pain and there was nothing we could do about it except desperately try to make it to bedtime.

A little before dinner, she really fell apart. We had already tried all sorts of distractions and remedies throughout the day and were running out of ideas. I decided that she had been cooped up in the house for a while, so I was going to bundle her up and take her for a walk outside to look at Christmas lights. The battle that ensued was utterly unprecedented. It took both my husband and I to wrestle her into warm clothes as she kicked and screamed. My patience and heart were breaking. Continue reading Teething