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Understanding Another Language

Have you ever tried to learn another language?  The answer is probably yes since most American High Schools and Colleges require students to have at least 2 years of a language.  I've tried to learn the following languages: Spanish, Italian, Greek, Latin, Portuguese, and French.  A few more serious than others - the first three in formal classroom settings: 3 years of Spanish in High School, 14 credits of Italian in College, and a Master's Level Seminary Class one semester for Greek.  Latin is sort of a side hobby as I learned more and more religious prayers, songs, and Mass parts throughout my faith journey.  Portuguese was a side business when I was going to WYD in Brazil last summer - basics like hello, goodbye, and thank you were mastered, only thank you was remembered - obrigada.  Regarding French, this was for my trip to the DR Congo in Africa.  I took it more seriously upon my return actually, but have since stopped doing my DuoLingo Lessons.  Mostly because I'm a slacker.  If you're looking to learn a language, I highly recommend the free app or website - super easy!

Anyway, yesterday morning I was speaking to Father Blaise on the phone - yes, that's right - Africa called me!  How amazing is technology?!  Then last evening I was at Spirituality Group (a young adult Bible study I lead twice a month) and I had a epiphany!  It was about language.

Father Blaise wanted to talk on the phone because he had been learning English - we'd chatted by IM a few times, and his typed English was getting much better (or he was quicker at using an online translator than before).  He wanted to practice.  Who else but the random girl who lives in Charlotte he happened to meet last March?!

So we made arrangements to talk.  He was able to speak very clearly - I understood everything he said, but he had a very hard time understanding me.  And my French is awful, so I couldn't even reply in French.  This little event got me thinking about the language of God.  It says in Scripture:
Your thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. ~Isaiah 55:8
and also in Second Peter:
 Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish. ~2 Peter 3:8-9
This was the passage that got me thinking.  I've spent a lot of time in prayer, conversation with friends, and reading spiritual books by great saints to learn the language of God.  I can speak it pretty well.  In wrote prayers and in spontaneous prayer.  I can also read it pretty well in written form, such as Scripture.  However, hearing it then deciphering it, and understanding it can be much more difficult.  Like Father Blaise with English - he knows the words, but his ears can't translate to his brain to understand English when I speak.

We can blame it on a bad connection, like we do with God.  But the truth is that we just don't know the language well enough yet.  We haven't become fluent in it enough to speak, read, write, and hear in the language.

This was a pretty profound epiphany for me.  The last few days have been pretty rough spiritually.  I wrote a little about it the other day to help clear my mind.  Becoming fluent in a language takes time, and so does deepening a relationship with God.  We have to commit to learning, understanding, listening over and over and over again until it becomes part of us.  My roommate in college loved the French language (biggest college regret is not learning French from her, but anyway) and said that when your dreams are in another language you know you've become fluent.  You're not constantly translating into your native tongue, but can actually comprehend the other language and form sentences in that language without translating back and forth over and over.


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