by Josh Brown
Have you ever said a word, one you have used hundreds of times, and it seems like it's the first time you have ever used it? It's like that scene from the movie Black Sheep, where Chris Farley and Davis Spade are saying the words "road" and "limit" in different ways. Well, this is happening to me right now with the word "Experience." We are three weeks into our Nevada experience and I hope you are ready because I'm about to geek out over this "new" word.
The word experience in Webster's Dictionary is primarily listed this way: "Direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge."
Digging deeper, I learned that this word evolved through an Anglo-French word which meant, "The act of trying." This word becomes even more fun when looking at the origin in Latin. The root word is periri and it carries the ideas of anticipation, fear, testing, and predominantly the idea of trying or attempting. The prefix is ex and this means, "out of." The suffix ence means "process, action, quality, or state of being." Roll all of these things together and we get the broad understanding that experience means, "What we get out of the process of trying."
Comparing this definition to Webster's, we see these are pretty close in meaning, but what I appreciate about the word-study process is the visceral understanding of this term. This new depth strikes a cord with me, especially today, three weeks into our Nevada experience (and over a month after leaving Virginia).
Our experience is more than just cognitive observations and knowledge, it is also the emotions of fear, anticipation, anxiety, joy, sorrow or any other emotion we encounter through the process. All of this seems to come together in an experience I had as a 14 year old:
In the midst of a canoe trip, our family came around a bend and saw people jumping off a cliff into the river. With some cajoling, I was talked into jumping from the cliff. Looking back on this experience it was more than just the principals of physics, it also meant facing feelings of uncertainty and fear as I looked over the edge of the cliff. It was embracing the exhilaration as I fell through the air. It was feeling the sting on my skin as I entered the water, and the gasp of air that filled my lung as I resurfaced. And finally, the sense of satisfaction that surrounded me as I sat on the opposite shore looking at the cliff desiring to jump again. That was my first experience with cliff jumping.
What is striking in this is the connection between experience and faith (then and now).
Our experiences are the significant life-changing moments and challenges we have endured. These experiences shape our very being. With my adherence to the Christian faith, I believe God has a plan. A big plan in which He is reconciling the world unto himself, and a specific plan for each believer that includes conforming us into the image of Jesus Christ. Amazingly, it is God's faithfulness that moves with us through the various experiences of our lives that make us look more like Jesus. This produces the confidence we need to step out in faith for our next experience.
About the Writers
Typically posts on this page are written by Jennifer Brown and often include fun stories about Josh as well. Occasionally, Josh might post too (when he feels daring!)