How do you feel about saying you're blessed?
A few months ago, the women’s group at my church discussed the phrase “I’m blessed.” The topic came up when one woman mentioned, “I don’t say that anymore.” She explained that when she said, “I’m blessed,” it felt like she was announcing membership in an exclusive club.
At some level, we all understood what she was saying. The driving question became, “What else could you say instead?” Some suggested, “I’m lucky.” Others chimed in with, “I feel blessed.” This discussion was short, but after the meeting, I kept thinking about it.
Not long afterward, I ran across the word toowayhon (to-way-hen), spelled t-o-o-w-a-y-h-o-n. It’s an Aramaic word from the native language of Jesus. It comes from the Aramaic root word “toway,” which means “good.” Toowayhon can describe anything good, from a beautiful sunrise to an act of kindness. However, it is most often used to describe a state of great happiness and contentment.
Some liken toowayhon to the English word “blessed.” Often, we may think of being blessed as something good that has happened to us. We may conclude if we do good, then we get good. But being blessed does not come from a list of if/then statements. It is more than just some good thing happening to us. It is a state of being.
Jesus likely brought a much deeper blessing by using toowayhon for the Beatitudes — a feeling that we are enriched by God’s providence and grace, spiritually fortunate and prosperous, delighted, and content. Toowayhon could be summed up as a state of bliss!
When reading the Beatitudes in English, we often miss the richness of Toowayhon’s meaning. For example, the Beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” can be more fully understood as “Enriched and full of great happiness are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
So, if the discussion about saying or not saying, “I’m blessed” ever comes up in my women’s group again, I’m ready. I found the Aramaic phrase Toowayhon ani—which literally means “I am enriched”— to be an acceptable replacement for “I’m blessed.” So, I’ll start using that because I am enriched always by God’s providence and grace. We all are!