Paul's Passing Thoughts

The Ramblings of a Dictionary Nerd

Posted in Uncategorized by pptmoderator on February 18, 2015

susan3-2Originally published August 4, 2013

Our son, Philip, called me a Word Nerd the other day. I love words and increasing my collection and understanding of them is enjoyable. There is an orange paperback Handy College Dictionary fourth edition lying next to my laptop, and I use the Merriam-Webster online dictionary daily to find the best word and the most complete meaning of a word to use when I write. I write assessments, goals, objectives, case notes, and reports for my job. On occasion, I write an article for my husband’s blog, and I am attempting to write a novella. (I forbid anyone to read it for it is my creative way to download, and to keep an old mind working as sharply as possible.)  When I had extra time last week, I tracked down the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious; an interesting little research sidebar. So, you think I have gone off the deep end? Perhaps, but I will go out with a rich vocabulary.

Confusing and/or impressing people with fancy or impressive words is not the intent of wanting a strong vocabulary. The point to developing and using a strong vocabulary is to be able to choose words with greater precision. It makes communication simpler, not the opposite as some think. Studying words also helps me in my study of the Word.

Take for example the word grip. Out of curiosity, I used the online dictionary to give me wonderful meanings of that commonly used word. I played tennis back in the day and was always being instructed on how to improve my grip. Everyone who played the game with me always assured me that if I strengthened my grip, my ability to control the ball would improve. There are idioms which use the word grip such as: get a grip, come to grips, and lose your grip, in the grip of something. I have lost count of the times I have been told to “Get a grip.”

A firm, tenacious hold to gain or maintain control or mastery was one rendition I preferred. Immediately, I cross-referenced the word tenacious and by doing so, the meaning of the word grip was expanded. Tenacious: not easily pulled apart, persistent, determined, unfaltering, unrelenting.  Grip means to take hold with a determined, unfaltering hold in order to gain or maintain control/mastery of a situation, person, or thing. With more investigation, I learned that grip and tenacious had both positive and negative connotations. Grip also has the softer meanings to embrace, clasp, cling, or cradle, and tenacious can mean bull-headed, unregenerate, and stiff-necked. So, an expanded rendition of grip can be a firm, tenacious hold, or a bull-headed clinging to a person, situation, or thing in order to gain or maintain control or mastery.

Why do we grip people, situations, or things so tightly? Is it an attempt to gain or maintain control? Is it fear that something less or inferior will replace what is being held onto so tightly, or even worse, lost forever? Is it a reluctance to say good-bye to the past and a resistance to embrace the future? Is it for security or an emotional safety net? If my questions were on a checklist, I would be checking yes to all of the above.

Gripping the past, hanging on tenaciously to it, does it change the present? Can it affect the future? Yes. It keeps daily growth and spiritual transformation from happening, affects present and future relationships with family, friends, and even casual acquaintances, and hinders new and deeper experiences from being enjoyed. It can be a raw form of rejection.

Even holding onto the good things of the past too tightly can affect personal growth and positive change. How many times have we heard the phrase, “We’ve always done it this way,” because someone at the church or in the family doesn’t want to experience change?

We are told in God’s Word to hold and to also let go. The Apostle Paul tells us to hold onto right thinking and strong doctrine, to hold on to what is good with the promised result of deeper sanctification. I did a quick, not exhaustive, word search of cling, and hold. It was interesting to me that in some of the references I read for the word hold, it was in regard to supporting something. Now, doesn’t that give a perspective on how we can grip someone or something? Rather than hanging on in order to gain or maintain control, we can tenaciously support that person, or organization. Support…do I feel another itch to look up a commonly used word and see what new perspective I can get?

Just like the circuitous storyline in the children’s book If You Give a Mouse A Cookie : When I now hear the word grip, my mind will flash back to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary; and when I go to the online dictionary I will  get curious and will look up words. Hmmmmm… And if I look up words I will want to read their definitions. I will even look up the word definition and discover that it’s a statement of the meaning of a word, exemplification, elucidation, clarification, rendering, vignette…….

Ok, Susan, “Get a grip.”

A Believer’s Bible Study – Having the Right Tools

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on September 1, 2014
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