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Words to Live By

Oct 28, 2016 08:56AM ● By Elizabeth Hesterly

Every now and then a word, a single word, stays in my head and lounges there. I’m at a loss at how best to describe it. I simply know this: a particular word comes across my brain --- lingering and dallying --- and it tends to harass me a bit, threatening to reside in my frontal lobe until I properly address it.

In my life this has occurred many times. It doesn’t happen every week or every month or in any kind of pattern. It’s a random oddity. Am I suffering from some kind of disorder? Do I need a psychologist? Should I be confessing this? Will I be judged as bizarre? And what does it say about me that I have come to welcome it?

I’ll provide an example. Months ago when I was working out of state, the word pursue appeared in my thinking. Pursue – a good verb, to be sure, and a word with interesting roots of origin. I know this because I looked it up.

Shortly after it ran across my mental screen, I would hear the word pursue on the radio, in a church sermon, in other places. Once I felt like the words in a conversation were all jumbled together and the only clear pronunciation was – you got it – pursue. I read it in a news article and saw it on a billboard. You might say the word was pursuing me. No kidding.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, and one that I have learned to enjoy. Perhaps my life, mundane as it is, is so busy and trapped in daily tasks that I need to be halted by a single word, a word with significance, a word with hidden meaning that sends me on a personal search.

So back to the most recent visiting verbiage --- what exactly am I to pursue? The question offers rich pondering and deep introspection. What do I want to pursue? What am I doing and where am I going?

In these past months, I’ve considered these questions, all based on that single word, one that planted itself in the garden of my brain. And here’s what I’m realizing: I want to pursue excellence. I want to pursue relationships. I want to pursue kindness. I want to pursue righteousness.

Am I able to do these things? Am I even capable?

Now here’s where it gets interesting. The original meaning for pursue provides an intriguing take. The word, in its first usage, meant to chase with the intent to capture, to chase after, to follow and try to overtake. Wow. That’s just what I mean to do. There’s a sense of urgency in that original definition, and I mean to abide by it. I might pursue a course of study. I might pursue a foreign language. I might simply pursue something new.

But whatever I do, I plan to arise each day with pursuit on my mind. I want to chase after the good stuff. I want to capture what’s important. I want to overtake what is ugly and bitter and replace it with sensitivity and gentleness. I’ll have delays and I’ll have dismays, of this I am sure. But because this word has set up shop in my head, I’m in strong pursuit, and I plan to make it a lifelong journey.

Elizabeth O'Roark Hesterly was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana. She is a graduate of Acadiana High School and LSU, is too serious for her own good, admires loyalty and faithfulness, and strives for both.