Assured versus Reassured
I have a student who used the word “assure” instead of “reassure.” These words are similar enough that they are sometimes used as synonyms (often incorrectly).
The student was answering the question, “Why do people feel threatened by those who are different?” She said that people like to assure themselves that they are okay.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, one of the definitions of assure is, “to give confidence to.” Giving ourselves confidence makes sense. So, the student’s answer,
makes sense in other contexts. But, the strongest sense of the word assure is to guarantee or promise.
Reassure is closer to the student’s intended meaning. According to Webster’s again, reassure means “to make someone feel less afraid, upset, or doubtful.” Indeed, “reassurance” means to remove doubt or fear, or provide comfort, or encouragement. So, reassure should have been used as the answer to my question. People don’t feel threatened by others to assure, meaning “to guarantee” anything. But we DO want to reassure ourselves that we are okay when we encounter people who are very different. (See the “My Take On It” section for more about this)
Rest Assured I’ll Reassure You
Look at the clever title above. The expression “rest assured” means that you can relax because I am promising you something. In other words:
Don’t worry, I’ve got it covered.*
The last part of my title is a twist on the expression, “Let me assure you.” We use this expression to guarantee that something is true or will happen. It is similar to saying “trust me.” However, I changed the expression from assure you to reassure you. This changed the meaning from trust me to a promise that I will give you peace, or reassurance. I believe in my ability to explain the use and differences of the word assured versus reassured.
Just for fun, I found some Bible verses which contain the word assure, or reassure, or variations of these words. I did this is because another name for The Holy Spirit* is the Comforter (Note: Muhammad claimed to be the comforter. So, this is an area of disagreement between Christians and Muslims.) The word reassure means to comfort, or give encouragement to so I immediately thought about the Great Comforter (this link will take you to several versions of John 14:26 with different names for the Holy Spirit including, the Advocate, the Helper, the Counselor, and the Comforter).
I mentioned earlier that we want to reassure ourselves that we are okay when we encounter people who are very different. Personally, I am not completely sure why people are threatened by other’s differences. It is something that makes our relationships interesting and exciting. Additionally, If we believe Genesis 1:27 which says,
GOD’S WORD® Translation
So God created humans in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female.
Then understanding each other’s differences gives us a more complete picture of God! Let’s look at life as a journey that we are all travelling together. We are all looking to complete the journey successfully. That means learning our purpose and fulfilling it. I think successful journeys require an encounter with God. He created us for a relationship with Himself and anything short of that is unsatisfying. But we all have different starting points on this journey, and different understandings, and different vantage points. It’s okay! God loves us and wants a relationship with us. He will draw those He loves (everybody) to Himself. And those of us that know Him and love Him get to be a part of His efforts to make Himself known. If that ‘s not exciting, I don’t know what is!