Why hoka hey? What does it mean?

Derived from the language of the Lakȟóta, [Sioux] tribe of North America. The saying became famous when Lakȟóta Sioux leader Crazy Horse famously exhorted his troops, “Hoka-hey, today is a good day to die!” Which meant something like “Let’s go men, today is a good day to die!” He wanted his men to know he was ready to go without hesitation and that even if they died, life would not be missed.

So in a nutshell, Hoka-hey roughly translates into “Let’s do it!” or “Let’s roll!” ”We have nothing to lose!”

Like many Biblical examples that become “types” for us to follow, this great American Indian phrase leads us to great inspiration, when it comes to what Jesus said, “If you wan’t to find your life you will lose it; but if you lose it for My sake, and the sake of the gospel, you will find it.”

What does this mean?

One of the areas I usually apply this awesome saying is when I am offended. “I wouldn’t be so offended if I wasn’t so “alive.” I need to die to offense. If I am “losing my life”, or “laying my life down”, then if I am “dead” to my ego and my presumed “rights”, I can reckon myself “dead”. So every day then is a “good day to die” to my ego, my insecurities, offense, my fears, etc. Jesus also said, “No greater love is there than one would lay his life down for his friend.”

Every day we are given multitudes of opportunities to die to our selves. The problem is our ego itself. We get hurt, offended, “dissed”, left out, used, neglected, forgotten, put-off, etc. When these things happen, especially according to our particular temperaments, and our broken pasts, we have certain reactions that automatically generate in nano seconds to protect, deflect, justify, blame-shift, and on and on.

But is that the way of losing my life, or let’s say, losing my ego? No. We will have to take our thoughts captive to these truths, humble ourselves, and allow God to have at our own hearts when these things happen. If we do not, we can conceivably be perpetual victims of circumstance. Codependent on what others say or don’t say, and always looking for some justification as to why I should not have been treated so badly.

News Flash! That will never not happen. There will always be offenses. That’s not the problem. The problem is how I handle them. This will require taking my thoughts, feelings, and emotions captive, confessing my struggle to someone, getting counsel, praying (hard), asking God to show me my own heart first in any and all circumstances. Then we can humble ourselves before and person and situation and find peace, compassion, empathy and sympathy for our broken friends and brothers and sisters, and family members.

Hoka – Hey! It’s a good day to die to my Ego!


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