For Lack of a Better Word

“For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand, Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.” (Ezekiel 3:5-6)

Non-word

I should start by saying that the word “themself”, while it may indeed look like an actual word, won’t score you any points with a well-informed (if slightly elitist) reading populace. In other words, it’s got the squiggly red line underneath. The idea though is a fascinating one. Here you have this compound word, the first syllable of which is the objective pronoun referring in gender-neutrality to anyone or anything. A catch-all of sorts. The second syllable of course refers to an individual. Your self. The Indo-European root (gotta have it) for self–according to my one source (other than the Internet), the American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots–is “s(w)a”. It gives rise to all sorts of self-ish words. Words like “seclude” and “secure” and “segregate”. Others too, like, “sullen”, “seduction” and “solipsism”. And “suicide”. Now put both syllables together and you get a non-word that starts in duality, moves toward unification and, whoops. You can’t even use it. Dear God.

“Teach me Thy way, O Lord; I will walk in Thy truth: unite my heart to fear Thy name.” (Psalm 86:11)

“I will run the way of Thy commandments, when Thou shalt enlarge my heart.” (Psalm 119:32)

Nonce words

Y’know, you can bend language to your will and your whims. Aside from all the dusty tomes lining the shelves of libraries the world over coupled with all the established information floating through the ether as well as scores upon scores of generations who tend to use words, uh, correctly, language is yours to do with what you will. No one is telling you–telling you–that you have to use words and syntax and grammar (can’t forget punctuation) intelligibly. Oh, they may have done that in school and rightfully so. About all school is good for nowadays, however, is learning to get along with one’s peers, maybe. And if you start stringing sentence and syntax subjectively, not only will you not ameliorate the hearers (seriously), you could very well alienate yourself. Think of it this way. When you were a kid (unless you were weird), you probably didn’t take too kindly to brushing your teeth every night. You may even have gone so far as to run your toothbrush under the water and call it good. To which your parent(s) might have responded with censure. Okay. I find that anyone (myself included) who didn’t see the “benefit” of brushing their teeth swore they’d swear it off when once they attained adulthood and escaped the parental-dental auspices of their youth. It’s like this with language. Now, rewinding down from this admittedly odd analogy, you can make language do what you want. The second part of the previous sentence is true. It is just excruciatingly hard to adopt and enact and exact. This idea comes into play when you coin a word for a situation for which a word applies just-so and wouldn’t’ve arisen any other way. Also known as a nonce word. Think about the ways we play around with the words we use. We form compound words or mishear snippets of conversation and things trigger in our brains and minds and we’re off and running. Life is a breeding ground for nonce words. This is what is so cool about this toy called “our brain”. Use it enough and get really good at whatever it is God has put on your heart to perform for Him–and you will be outstanding in your field. Ah. I’m reminded of this:

“My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget Thy law.” (Psalm 119:109)

Here’s the catch if ever there was one. The information (for lack of a better word) from God’s heart that defines who we are in Him is found in His word. It runs counter to philosophies and thought-structures the world over that would encourage you to become all you can be without Him. For instance, even with “themself”, should you stir your, uh, self to the point of laser focus on whatever vocation or discipline to the neglect of the one who put those gifts inside you (if I may), God will not be able to use you like He could. You may well attain worldwide attention and notoriety and, dare I say it, fame, for your gifts. And then your teeth will rot. Don’t forget about Jesus.

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profitted, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:25-26)

Here. All I have is this one word.

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