What does “galvanize” even mean?

As my thirtieth birthday approaches, I’ve started to reflect on my first thirty years. I can honestly say that in thirty years, the best decision I made, one that defines me and continues to define me, has been deciding to go back to church. Church has helped me grow closer to Jesus, meet new people, get to know people better, and contribute to something greater than myself.

In connection with this, over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on something that made me think I should probably look up the word “galvanize.” I was surprised to find that there’s more than one definition. This is the definition that I’d heard before:

shock or excite (someone) into taking action.
the urgency of his voice galvanized them into action
synonyms: jolt, shock, startle, impel, stir, spur, prod, urge, motivate, stimulate, electrify, excite, rouse, arouse, awaken, invigorate, fire, fuel, animate, vitalize, energize, exhilarate, thrill, dynamize, inspire;

Isn’t that awesome? I love all the synonyms; they make me feel like I can go and do something amazing.

However, I never knew of any other definitions or where the word originated. Thank goodness for Google and the fact that most dictionaries have websites now (When did that happen?).

Luigi Galvani

Luigi Galvani was an Italian scientist who discovered how metals interact with other metals while experimenting on frogs legs. He was researching how muscles react to electric stimulation. The Italian word “galvanismo” was borrowed by English speakers as “galvanism” in the 18th century, meaning “the electrochemical process that takes place between two metals.” This eventually transitioned into “galvanize”: to stimulate by electricity.

Today, galvanizing metal means to cause an electrochemical reaction by dipping iron or steel into melted zinc. Why do people do this? To prevent corrosion, and I believe this is what God is doing for me through church.

Preventing Faith Corrosion

Metal exposed to the elements will corrode and break down, and my faith started breaking down in 2017 when I tried to handle life’s problems without turning to God. In addition to losing several family members within the span of two months, I also had to accept that something I’d worked towards for over two years wasn’t going to work out. A door was closed and I didn’t know why.

Perhaps not every Christian gets this, but for me, there are definitely times when I feel closer to God. When I was actively avoiding church, I didn’t feel close to God. I’d still pray, but I’d pray that God would just do what I wanted Him to do.

In hindsight, this sounds ridiculous, but at the time, I guess I figured that God just didn’t know what I wanted. If I told Him, He’d make it happen, right? Well, no, and that’s because His plans are way better than mine. I know this now, but I didn’t know it then.

A New Lesson Every Week

Remember what I said about God closing a door? A few weeks ago, my pastor did a sermon about how God closed the door on Paul and a few other followers of Jesus. I’d never heard this before. It made me realize that God closes doors for a reason. Going through the door God wants us to go through doesn’t mean we won’t face trouble, but God will be there with us, shaping us into who he wants us to be.

As a writer, I shouldn’t plagiarize myself, but I think I explained well why my pastor’s sermons are so good in a recent review I wrote about the church. Here it is, slightly modified for privacy:

“His sermons are biblically based. They share God’s word in an accessible way. He stresses the importance of looking at the context of verses. He often shares the definition of a Greek or Hebrew word relevant to the sermon to further increase the congregation’s understanding of the message.”

Essentially, my pastor’s sermons are brilliant (Maybe I should add that to my review). I’m not sure how he’s able to come up with a new (nearly half-hour) sermon every single week, but he does. He usually starts with a story and relates it to the bible verse for that week, but then he goes deeper into the context and talks about what we can learn. Every week I learn something new about Jesus, myself, and about how Jesus wants me to approach life.

Outside the Windows

One sermon my pastor gave was about how as Christians we can’t isolate ourselves and ignore the world because God loves the world. Our mission field is “outside the windows” of the church. I agree, but I’d also add that I shouldn’t be isolating myself away from other members of the church either. I’ve always been Christian, but I wasn’t growing as a Christian when I wasn’t in a Christian community.

One of my church’s purposes is to gather in community. As my pastor says, “We are called to community. We’re never called to do life alone.” We need other people to help us in our faith and to become more like Jesus. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

During the last year and a half, I’ve met a lot of great people and volunteered for several great initiatives. I never would have done this if I hadn’t made the decision to go back to church.

The Next Thirty Years

My life definitely isn’t what I thought it would be when I was twenty. It’s better. And in my thirties, instead of praying that God will do what I want, I’m praying that God will help me become who He wants me to be. I know I’m not that person yet, but through my church, God’s galvanizing me to become that person.




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