On Finals and Finishing: When the End is only the Beginning

Tomorrow is our last day of language school.

TOMORROW.

If you noted that I am kind of freaking out, you are correct. You get the gold star today. Actually, my daughter is giving out stars today and she says they’re purple. So, congratulations.

In some ways, I am thrilled….relieved.

But in most  others, I am anxious. My emojis are all over the place. Just ask anyone I’ve texted with in the last week.

However naively, I thought, when I finished language school, I would be a fluent speaker. I have to laugh at that idea now or I will cry. OK, I’m probably gonna cry anyway, but let’s pretend I’m not.

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We’ve been given the boot. We’ve been given counsel by experienced missionaries whose opinion we value immeasurably to fly the coop (read: get KICKED OUT OF THE NEST). Our classroom learning period is over. We can talk and write and read and translate, and, to be honest, WE ARE BORED in the classroom setting.

We told our teacher we were planning to wrap up our time with her and she said, “I’ve been telling you for months you don’t need me anymore. I don’t know what to teach you.” Don’t let the door hit you on your way out, right? I can tell how much she is going to miss us…

So, we’re done. But does that mean I don’t trip over my tongue when speaking to a Nepali neighbor about a subject I’m not extremely familiar with? Does that mean I can speak through a headache or emotional uprising? Nope. Not at all. And once ears are burning, all bets are off. I’ll say even the most basic phrase like someone who better take a taxi home tonight.

For a missionary, finishing language school does not render the end of the learning process. In fact, quite the opposite. I feel like IT’S ABOUT TO GET REAL. That is, if I really put myself out there, shame myself on the daily, maybe I’ll be classified as fluent in a year or two, however, knowing I will be a life-long learner of this language.

At that thought, my soul screams, “Can I go home now?”

I’ve shared in the past about how learning a a language has been the most stretching, challenging, humbling, emotional and spiritual battle for me. Even though we are far from what I call the “goo-goo, ga-ga” days, we are still far from the finish line and aren’t even sure there is such a thing for a foreign language learner. We’ll let you know if we ever get there.

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But such is the story of any job worth doing. Motherhood, marriage, ministry…pretty sure all are endeavors where the end goal is elusive and the finish line blurry at best.

And such is following hard after Jesus. Knowing I’ll never live up to His sinless life is not a viable reason to lessen my efforts to resemble Him in some way. Because even the smallest tastes of Jesus can spark a hunger in a heart searching for Him. My efforts to love others like He does, though only on the most microscopic of scales, is no reasonable excuse to cease from showcasing His compassion.

It’s better to forget the “goo-goo ga-ga” days of doing not much of value for Him. To reach ahead and reach out. Moving forward sometimes means moving on but moving on doesn’t always mean finishing. And not finishing doesn’t mean I should quit.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14).

What are you working on, wrapping up, or wrestling with?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!

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  1. Pingback: Freedom, Fruitfulness, and…Fertilizer – All Things Bright and Beautiful

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