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The Meaning of Words

09 Feb

I’ve been ruminating lately on the meaning of words. It’s important to clearly communicate and so choosing words that have the right message is important.

For instance, I’ve recently come to love the word fierce.  When I think of it, I think of how a mother lion/bear/wild animal loves her cubs.  I think protective, willing to throw myself into harm’s way, etc. My husband says that I began calling myself “fierce” around the same time as we began watching the Sons of Anarchy and that is how the main female character was written. However, when I looked up the definition, I wasn’t quite as enamored with the word.  Here’s the definition according to dictionary.com,

fierce [feers]

adjective, fierc·er, fierc·est.

1. menacingly wild, savage, or hostile: fierce animals; a fierce look.
2. violent in force, intensity, etc.: fierce winds.
3. furiously eager or intense: fierce competition.
4. Informal . extremely bad or severe: a fierce cold.

Most of these definitions have a connotation of anger and violence and I don’t see myself as possessing either of those often enough or long enough to be called “fierce”. So I started to look for a word that encompasses more of my character qualities.

Many of you know that Erwin McManus’s book The Barbarian Way is one of my favorite books. So I next decided to look up “barbarian”.  Here, again according to dictionary.com, is the definition…

bar·bar·i·an [bahr-bair-ee-uhn]

noun

1. a person in a savage, primitive state; uncivilized person.
2. a person without culture, refinement, or education;philistine.
3. (loosely) a foreigner.
4. (in ancient and medieval periods)

a. a non-Greek.
b. a person living outside, especially north of, the RomanEmpire.
c. a person not living in a Christian country or within a Christian civilization.
5. (among Italians during the Renaissance) a person of non-Italian origin.
adjective

6. uncivilized; crude; savage.
7. foreign; alien.

I didn’t completely like this one either. I think definitions #2 and #4c are what I have the most trouble with.  I certainly don’t see myself that way.

Interestingly, McManus’s book takes the 1st definition of barbarian as a noun and says that the Barbarian faith is “the passion and power of that raw, untamed, and primal faith.” that is to say uncivilized. I think that’s why I loved the book. Laugh you must, I see my faith walk as that of Natalie, warrior princess for Jesus, wearing her full armor of God and charging into battle to “fight for the heart of her king” and for the lost and broken.

So lastly, I looked up the word strong.  Quite frankly it was my word of last resort. I thought it non-descriptive and over-used.  But when I looked it up, I realized I had found the word I’d like to embody.

strong [strawng, strong]  adjective, strong·er  [strawng-ger, strong-]  , strong·est  [strawng-gist, strong-], adverb

adjective

1. having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust: a strong boy.
2. accompanied or delivered by great physical, mechanical, etc., power or force: a strong handshake; With one strong blow the machine stamped out a fender.
3. mentally powerful or vigorous: He may be old, but his mind is still strong.
4. especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect: She’s very strong in mathematics. He’s weak at bat, but he’s a strong fielder.
5. of great moral power, firmness, or courage: strong under temptation.
6. powerful in influence, authority, resources, or means of prevailing or succeeding: a strong nation.
7. aggressive; willful: a strong personality.
8. of great force, effectiveness, potency, or cogency; compelling: strong reasons; strong arguments.
9. clear and firm; loud: He has a strong voice.
10. solid or stable; healthy; thriving: The banker predicted a strong economy.
11. well-supplied or rich in something specific: a strong hand in trumps.
12. having powerful means to resist attack, assault, or aggression: a strong fortress; a strong defense.
13. able to resist strain, force, wear, etc.: strong walls; strong cloth.

I’ve long told my daughter and my sons of their strength, that they come from a line or family of strength.  May it ever be so, Lord.

So now, let’s modify it a little.

Natalie, warrior princess for Jesus, great in strength, wearing her full armor of God and charging into battle to “fight for the heart of her king” and for the lost and the broken.

( All references in quotes from Erwin Raphael McManus. The Barbarian Way: Unleash the Untamed Faith Within, Kindle Edition.)
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Posted by on February 9, 2012 in faith

 

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