(Here's some music! It's what I listened to while writing this.)
There’s this certain beauty about the idea of making up words that don’t currently exist. In my own geek-ish sort of way, I think about latin roots and etymologies of words, pondering where they came from and who used them first. There’s something special about doing something for the first time. Like, I think it would be awesome to be known for being the first person to use a certain word… EVER. That’s an accolade that not many people have. Shakespeare made up a whole buncha words that we consider to be absolutely routine now. But seemingly, if you or I just “made up” a new word to more accurately describe something, we’d be in error.
Spell-check is probably to blame for that — we’ve become under the impression that if something is underlined in that horrid red, squiggly line, that we’re wrong. That somehow, either we’ve let the swiftness of our fingers mislead our spelling, or we’ve simply overstepped the set grammatical rules. But y’know what, forget the rules.
Did you know, that there’s actually a job for putting new words in the dictionary? If that’s your job, you’re called a lexicographer. There’s a TED talk by a lexicographer that rather opened my mind when it comes to the idea of making new words. Here it is, if you’d like to check it out:
So, in that same vein of inspiration and frustration, I gave this concept of word-smithing a shot. To be fair, though, this is a word that I have pre-meditated on… so I kindof worked backwards in the process. I needed a word, so I made it, and then reasoned and ranted about how the process of word-smithing is riddled full of fallacies and shortcomings... but nonetheless, here’s my word:
Lemme break that down for you. The prefix “symbio-” refers to the state of two organisms being closely associated, but also that mutually benefit from the other. Example: A clownfish and anemone. The clownfish eats the invertebrates that are harmful to the anemone, and in return, the clownfish gains protection from predators via the stinging nature of the anemone. Think of it like the prefix “co-“, but with a bit more commitment.
Now, the other part of the word, which comes from the term “idiosyncrasy.” Idiosyncrasies are the characteristics, behaviors, mannerisms, and traits that are unique to an individual. One of my unique traits is that I’m constantly tapping a foot, finger, or writing utensil to the beat of a song that’s stuck in my head… almost constantly. This is a strange part of who I am, and I love that!
With these two understandings in mind, let me define my word for you...
Symbiosyncracy - “The state of being dependent upon the unique, individual qualities of those around you.”
To be honest, I rather like it. When I first thought of the word, it made me light up a bit… because I now have a word that encapsulates the unspoken complexity of prospering friendships and relationships and church. This idea of symbiosyncracy is a vivid interpretation of the body of Christ, aka the Church. Not only is it an incredible function of humanity that has the power to bring people together, but it’s the very thing that Christ intended for the church to excel in.
"People are pretty much alike. It's only that our differences are more susceptible to definition than our similarities." - Linda Ellerbee
This also leaves a bit of room for error. Because we’re human and are more than simply a function in a grand purpose, we can take refuge in the fact that our quirks and flaws also unite us into a stronger being. Where I am weak, you may be strong! What you find to be difficult, I may do with ease! Where one culture lacks, another may be abundant in.
We’re meant to need each other, so why do we think that we can do it on our own?
CHALLENGE: List three unique things that you love about yourself, and then three unique things about someone else that you love. Acknowledge the weirdness of the both of you, and let the differences encourage you.
I pray that you take courage in the fact that you’re desperately needed by every person around you… and that you need them just as much. I hope you’re uplifted by the immense value that you have in the body of Christ. Never stop being you, cause you’re freaking awesome. Keep moving forward in this day, knowing that you are capable of more than you think, by the power of the Holy Spirit living within you and the unique strengths of the community behind you.