Recently while enjoying a relaxing evening at home with three of my children, I sneezed. I waited for the customary, “Bless You,” but everyone was so engrossed in what they were doing, no one responded. That caused me to think. Why are we inclined to say, “Bless You?” when someone sneezes? What’s the purpose? Or, is there one? Is it simply a polite expression? And, does it matter whether we say it or not?
My mother, a full-blooded Dutchman always said, “Gesundheit” when we sneezed. Thinking about that years later, I googled it. Turns out it comes from the German words “gesund” meaning “health” and “heit” meaning “hood.” So, basically “gesundheit” means, “health-hood.”Or, the state of being in good health.
While the word originally came from the old country, it is still used today to wish good health to a person who has just sneezed, as well as the more common “God bless you,” or, just “Bless you.” Wishing a person good health when they sneezed was traditionally believed to forestall the illness that a sneeze often portends. (I would really like to give credit to the site I found this on, but I honestly can’t remember. Sorry.”)
So anyway, after considerable thought, I came to the conclusion that saying, “Bless You” is more than just an unnecessary customary phrase. I believe it has real meaning.
They looked up in surprise and laughed. “You blessed yourself?”
“Of course,” I answered. “If you don’t bless me, I will.”
Soon after this incident I heard Lucy Hale’s song, “Bless Myself” and found it ironic. Even though it’s a secular song, it reaffirms the truth that we don’t have to wait for someone else to bring good into our lives. As Lucy says, blaming others for what we lack is useless. Taking responsibility for our life, present and future, is much more effective.
On Facebook today I read this on a friend’s status: “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for, but rather something to be achieved.”
Blessing ourselves is not passive, it’s active. It means taking action by avoiding people, situations, and activities that are harmful and replacing them with healthy relationships and activities that bring blessings into our lives. This is the first way we bless ourselves – by making good decisions.
The second way is by asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. By incorporating both methods, we are covered. We make choices that bring blessings to ourselves and those around us, and we depend on God to do what only He can do.
Why wait another minute? Start right now. Bless yourself today.
Gesundheit, my friend!