I have found language learning to be the most humbling experience of my life.
How does language learning humble me? Let me count the ways…
- It once dawned on me that I only understood what people were saying to my 4 month old son.
- We are now speaking fairly well, but a lady in our neighborhood consistently says “Here comes the people who don’t speak Nepali” (in Nepali) when we walk by. We understand, and we don’t say otherwise. Many others in the neighborhood compliment us on how well we have done in a short amount of time, but her comments are the ones that hang around!
- Many people will answer me in English despite me only speaking Nepali and repeatedly asking them to do the same. It feels like I am making a fool of myself for no reason.
- I know how to express some seemingly complex thoughts but will go to express something that seems so basic in English and I haven’t the first clue how to form the sentence in a sensible manner.
- One person will teach me to say something one way, and I will speak to another person who looks at me like I have two heads and teaches me another way. Not only do I feel pretty silly, but I am also confused and can’t remember either way to say it.
- When I don’t understand cultural things that are happening around me, I can’t always ask the questions I need to gain the information I need to act appropriately.
- There were many times I didn’t understand what the 5 and 6 year olds at church were trying to communicate with me.
- I say things I would never say in English. For instance, “I eat coffee. I do mistakes. I do rest. I do thought,” etc. I try to wrap my mind around the fact that “I used to have to…” and “I should have…” are used interchangeably. After several exhausting exchanges, I accepted that I never will. There are many examples of these discrepancies.
Through this process, I am blown away by God’s goodness in humbling himself and coming to earth as a man. The author of all languages had to “goo-goo” and “ga-ga” just like everyone else. His mother had to correct him when He said “me” instead of “I” like I do daily with my daughter. He had to point at things HE CREATED and ask what they were! As I am humbled by this experience for the sake of the gospel, I am gaining such a beautiful appreciation of what Christ did for me…and all He had at the end of that road was DEATH!
It is only reasonable that I can humble myself to language learning in order to proclaim this truth to those that have never heard. Because of what He did for me at the end of my road is eternal life and casting the crowns He allowed me to glean at the feet that were nailed to the cross so I could.
Have you experienced something that made you greater value the humility of Christ?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!