Friday, December 11, 2015

Idiom Living and the Ultimate Metaphor

For any Trekkies out there. 
Idioms are an intriguing facet of language. Discovering unique ones is fun for me. There are lots in the Thai language which I have shared before (see my post Feb. 11, 2014), but every language has them. I like this one in French:  J’ai besoin de vos lumières. The literal translation is, "I need your lights" but the English equivalent would be more like, "I need to pick your brain" which, ironically, is also an idiom.

I could not think of a creative way to segue from the topic of idioms into this month's topic of Christmas and thoughts of the past year so bear with me as I connect the dots.

In the middle of November two things happened that gave me focus this Christmas: 1. My pastor asked me to write an advent poem through the four Sundays of Advent. 2. I started a personal study of the book of John. The theme of light was so startling to me in John 1 that that became my focus for my advent poem and for the Christmas season.

I think I was drawn to the theme of light because it is the antithesis of the difficult, sometimes dark year our family has been through. I began researching the word "light'" for my poem, and that's where the idioms come in. I came across a list of "light" idioms. They sounded so familiar as I read them. Then I realized I had used these or heard these idioms all year: make light of (a situation); bring to light; to be light years away from (something); see the light of day; light at the end of the tunnel; light a fire under; shed light on; see in a new light; the light dawned. Finally, the light dawned.

Was my year really just a year of idiom living? Of relying on idioms that can soon become cliche? I wanted to believe that that was not the case. Because, while these idioms are fine on their own, they are not solid enough to live by.

That's when I started reading John, who does not focus on idioms but on metaphors. And there it was--the ultimate "light" metaphor. John 1:4-8 says, "In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but came to bear witness about the Light." And then in John 8:12, Jesus Himself says, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” That's the kind of focus I wanted and the perspective I needed. And that is His desire for our lives.

Idiom living might sound deceptively fine. But Jesus doesn't want us living that way. He wants us to live by the metaphors of who He is: He is Light. He is Love. He is Life. Small "l" idioms are but a dim reflection of capital "L" metaphors. This Christmas I am focusing more on those capital "L" metaphors as I think about how Jesus "emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (Phil. 2:7) He is Love. He is Light. He is Life. Jesus says, "Come and SEE!"


~Rain``` said...

Very interesting. I like what you are communicating, that we often live by an idiom rather than the metaphor. Language is fascinating. May Jesus be your LIGHT this Christmas.

Anonymous said...

"...deceptively fine." That says so much how deception sneaks in. But, thankfully we always have the Light in which we can see.