My world has exploded into Spanish. The basement office is littered with textbooks, notecards, and sundry other Spanish teaching materials. I was hired in the eleventh hour to teach part time at the Christian high school here in town. I’m looking forward to being in the classroom, except in the moments when I break out into full panic because it has been 20 years since I studied Spanish in college, and I have only a few weeks to prepare.
Wait, when do I use ser, and when do I use estar?
Now I’m translating every thought into Spanish and running to the dictionary when I can’t think of a word.
What is the present perfect tense again?
I was laughing with a student who said her high school Spanish teacher also taught French. The teacher would be going along in Spanish and all of a sudden slip into French. It is confusing when you have a couple of full-blown languages trying to occupy space in one brain.
This is what it’s like to follow Christ. We have this native tongue, and then we come into the kingdom of light. All of a sudden every word is different, what’s accented changes, and it feels awkward.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV) This is not our first language.
Wait, love, how do I pronounce that again?
How do I translate kindness into this world of abrasiveness I live in?
How do I say joy when life is hard?
One thing I know about learning a language –it is really hard, unless you’re like my Spanish professor in college who was mastering his fifth language. Most of us don’t pick up a foreign tongue that easily.
It’s hard, hard work. You try it. You feel stupid a lot. You try it again. Again. Again. Again. You carry around notecards and go over phrases until they roll off your tongue. You conjugate verbs and memorize massive vocabulary lists.
Y un día… (And one day…)
You can speak the language.
I keep working at Spanish because it’s beautiful, with its rolled rrrrrrr’s and smooth sentences and soft “b” sounds.
And the language of Christ is beautiful. Difficult –but beautiful. Certainly the most romantic language.
Let us labor daily to master it.