- April 26, 2021
This paper will seek to understand the concept of blessings. Although this is a deeply religious concept, the analysis in this paper will not be a rigorous religious dissection. In the paper, we shall understand this concept more broadly and derive important lessons about our day to day life.
Origins of the word “bless”
Bless as a word has multiple meanings. They include; invoking the spirit of God, to praise or to dedicate. To really understand this particular word we must look into its origins which are rather convoluted.
The word “bless” stems from the word, bletsian. Bletsian is a word from an ancient German tribe called Old Teutonic tribe. It meant ‘to mark with blood’ and referred to activities of blood sacrifices. If something was marked with blood it meant that it was chosen. Therefore if you say that the Israelites were blessed, you are pointing out that they were marked, therefore chosen. If you consider yourself blessed, then you consider yourself marked, chosen.
But this does not house the whole concept of the word “bless”. This concept was also expressed among the Greek, the Hebrews and in Latin. Understanding it from the different angles will allow for an exhaustive understanding of what the word “bless” means.
The Greek equivalent is the word Eulogia which means praise or fine speaking. This introduces another angle into the understanding of this word, the part of speech. Blessings are a derivative of speech. The verb (Eulogew – blessing) means to speak well of, to praise. In business, they say the best form of marketing is the word of mouth. If you speak well of somebody or something then you are blessing them or it. It is, therefore, correct to denote that if also you speak ill of something, you are doing the exact opposite. You are cursing it. Lastly, the adjective (Eulogitos – blessed) means well-spoken of or praised. To consider yourself blessed you must be well spoken of, or praised. By this, I do not mean in a blasphemous way. I mean, you have more people thinking and speaking well of you than otherwise.
In my understanding, this is the foundation of all blessings. Blessings do not happen when you have all the material aspirations you want to possess; those are just as a result of the kind words others have spoken in your favour. No one exists in isolation, therefore your upward or downward mobility in our society is pegged on the ratio of people who speak well of you vs those who speak ill of you.
The Hebrew equivalent of the word bless is baw-rahk. Baw-rahk translates to “to kneel”. It is from the Hebrew that the idea of a deity having all the blessings emerges. If you wanted to be blessed you had to kneel. To kneel symbolically means reducing your stature so that the other can be increased. For you to receive baw-rahk you have to kneel. Christians put it well, “I decrease so that God may increase.”
The Latin had a similar concept to the Greek. In old Latin, they used the word, benedicere which means benediction. Modern Spanish uses the word bendito which means to say good things or good words.
What is a blessing?
A blessing is a good word, a kind word. Material gain is a result of kind words said towards us. Therefore, if you buy a car today, the car is not the blessing, it is just but a representation of all the good words you have been accumulating along your path. The good test scores, the great advice, the recommendations and referrals, the prayers and words spoken over you by those in authority, parents, peers, clergy members and God.
What does it mean to be blessed?
Being in alignment with God and other people and staying humble in light of all the material acquisitions because of your blessings.
What do you do to be blessed?
Live well with people. Be a good person. By this, I do not mean bending to everyone’s needs and forgetting your own just so that people can say good things about you, I mean, be yourself. Do more good than you do harm and if your conscious being is well trained, and you know the difference between right and wrong, this will enable you to receive the social uplift you are expecting.
What is the opposite of a blessing?
It is a curse. This is when the number of unkind words spoken towards you outweighs the good things people think and say about you.
Can you manipulate blessings?
Sure you can, but remember you cannot bend reality for long. Sooner or later it will snap back at you and this will have devastating if not catastrophic effects on your life.
Do you need blessings?
Think of it this way, if Christiano Ronaldo only played football for himself and no single person ever got to witness it, would it really matter how good he is? It is when people see him play, love it, and cheer him on, that he is further motivated. Through this symbiotic relationship, we have Christiano. You need people to cheer you on. You need people who will say nice things about you, to you and to God. That is how you win. You cannot do so in isolation. Therefore, you cannot do it without blessings.
Do you deserve to be blessed?
If you are alive today then someone wants you to live; God wants you to live. That is one vote of confidence every morning. That is one kind word when you wake up. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that if you are alive then you are blessed, and probably do deserve to be blessed.
Who can bless?
Certainly, God can. Looking back at our Hebrew derivation, all blessings do come from God. But we as humans can also bless each other by spreading goodwill about each other. In more traditional ways, blessings are hierarchical. You are blessed by your elders, your father, your clergy, or anybody who is above you in the hierarchy. Whereas this still holds true, you need kind words from your seniors it still counts that you need kind words from your peers too and those below you in the hierarchy.
How does this tie into the idea of Grace, Luck or Fate?
I have to confess I have not studied Grace. But in my understanding Grace is transcendent and is not conditional. We get to experience it regardless.
Luck is the moment things align in your favour. I think it is through blessings that you encounter these moments that are life-changing. The more kind words about you out there the more of these scenarios you are going to encounter. The more blessed(read kind words) the luckier you are.
Our choices determine our fate. How we choose to live will determine how blessed.
Admittedly, this paper did not analyse blessings from a religious point of view. That notwithstanding, I believe it is important that we understand that our lives are in our hands and we can influence that which happens to us. As we have understood now, blessings are a function of how we interact with fellow human beings (not disqualifying God’s blessings). How we live, how we interact and the impact that we have on others’ lives will totally influence the number of blessings we invite into our lives.
Go out and be a blessing to someone.
This paper was produced by ‘Living The Dream’ and written by Stephen Kimani.