To Strangle or Surrender
If one more person tells me how my whole family and I will be fluent in ‘no time’, I am going to strangle him!
Not to death. I would not want to break a commandment! Just a little strangle — just enough to cause minor discomfort.
OK, that may qualify as breaking the greatest commandment…
But I am annoyed! Really annoyed! And it is not just Americans. Even Spaniards say it. At least I think that is what they are saying! I suppose they could be saying “I really hope you’re fluent in no time, because listening to you butcher my language is painful.” I am never quite sure exactly what people are saying to me, because I AM NOT FLUENT!
I took two years of high school Spanish, two semesters of college Spanish, and spent a whole year in language school in Costa Rica. Yet I get stuck trying to order Happy Meals at McDonald’s!
And hardly anyone understands. Before we left for Costa Rica, well-meaning people encouraged us that within six months, we would be speaking like a native.
Six months into language school, our greatest accomplishment was ordering a pizza over the phone.
Even fellow global workers can add their annoying sticks to the frustration fire. Some have been on the field so long they forget how tough the first few years of language-learning were. They just know they are now fluent and we will be, too.
Some are in other countries and just wish they could learn a language as ‘easy’ as Spanish. Theirs has no alphabet, no language schools, no cognates. Wah, wah, wah.
This is MY pity party!
I do not care that eventually I will get this. I do not care that Spanish is an easier language to learn than other languages. I do not get it now, and it is NOT easy! I am working hard every day; and some days all I have to show for it is a Happy Meal!
What I like best is when people just say, “You know what, language learning is hard.” Period. No, “But you can do it,” or “Just keep trusting God, He will get you through.” I can and He will. I know that. I am a global worker!
And there is the bottom line. I am a global worker. I came to Spain to serve. To help. To encourage. And I am not able to do any of that. I am being served, being helped. And, though people are trying to encourage me, I am not really letting them.
God is using this time in our lives to humble me, to show me any good I might be able to do in the future is fully and completely a result of His grace in my life. No amount of studying, practicing, or watching horribly over-acted Spanish soap operas will make me fluent.
As I have heard from veteran global workers, and as I am learning myself, God teaches us far more than we will ever teach others. My learning Spanish is not His top priority. His desire for me during this season is that I learn to think and act and talk like His Beloved Son.
Because if I am not reflecting Christ in the words that come out of my mouth, then the words themselves really do not matter.
God is teaching me a great deal right now. Only some of it is Spanish.
So I guess I won’t strangle the next person who asks me if I am fluent.
Not even a little.