If you only had two words to communicate in another language, what would you want them to be?
Thankfully I’ve grown to beyond two words in French, but this last week I was deeply touched by two comments my teacher made. It feels like he never gives me much of a clue of how I am doing (and my marks are not always that impressive) and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve wondered if he’s secretly wishing he had put me in a lower class - such is the power of insecurity, comparison and my imagination. But this last week he made two comments that caused tears to well up in my eyes. They were just in passing as he was explaining something else but they stood out to me. The first was, ‘… as we know how much Kirstie cares about justice’…. and the second, ‘… and as Kirstie is often reminding us, what does love look like?’. You know, there have been times in these last 3 months when I have literally wanted to walk out of the class in a flood of tears, when I have thought the mountain is way too high for me and that it really would be OK to give up. We speak French 100% of the time in our class (and even at break times), to the extent where I spoke in English to my 2 classmates a few days ago and we giggled at each other’s English accents as we had no idea what we sounded like in English until then! It’s exhausting and sometimes it feels like I spit out absolute nonsense, a jumble of words in a fearful attempt to break the silent, inquisitive, and yet, patient stare of my teacher who is waiting for me to contribute something to the debate. So when I heard that he knew I like to fight for justice and that I often want to ask what love looks like, I could have cried. If I have learnt to communicate nothing more than my love for justice and the power of love, I am satisfied! I am learning so many lessons here, not least that I don’t need to be perfect and I’m learning that compassion doesn’t get lost in my misplaced pronouns or my confused tenses. Phew.
Here are some other lessons I’m in the process of learning (in French, when you are in the process of doing something you say, ‘en train de’)… so I like to think I am ‘on the train’ of learning’ - It’s a journey:
- I’m never alone, even if I feel like it
- It’s no coincidence that this school is surrounded my mountains. I can look to them and be reminded where my help comes from every day - the maker of Heaven and Earth
- You never know what God might be waiting to say to you. Make space for Him
- I can do nothing in my own strength. Don’t even try
- Patience + Trust = Peace + Joy. Without those ingredients, you will never find peace and joy. Fear and control are the usual contaminates.
- ‘you know your mind is renewed, when the possible looks logical’ Bill Johnson
- Sometimes you just need to go outside and look at the stars
- Are my language skills for my own glory or His? If not mine, then failure is merely an act of learning and not a statement about my identity
- The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and when I don’t discern those things, I mustn’t align with what I see
- Live generously. It’s always worth it
- Friends are extremely precious
- Grace and love for myself. Loads of it. (the train journey for this one seems longer than others)
- Above all, worship our all-powerful, sovereign God. Start everything from that place and it changes everything.
The view from my bedroom
I’m so grateful for this season of language learning, but more than that, the opportunity to ‘renew my mind’. It was when I was reading an article a few weeks ago about the impossibility of learning a language if you’re over 30, that I realised something. I instinctively closed down the article half way through. I didn’t want to fill my mind with that! I find science fascinating, but who is to tell me my brain isn’t capable of learning anymore? So often, we are trained to look through our human eyes, to see what we can understand, and I’m sick of it! What’s the point of saying I believe in a God who can move mountains and that I can do even greater things than Jesus did on Earth and then settle for filling my mind with what I can understand? I’m not playing that game, sorry! I am realising I was made for a different reality.
It’s so good to be on this 'train of learning'. It’s really, really good. It’s a gift and one that is preparing me for what is next. Plans are still forming with Mercy Ships but for now, I will be patient and trust and believe that all these lessons, as well as the French, will be put to good use one day.
Sovereign in the mountain air, sovereign on the ocean floor,
With me in the calm, with me in the storm…
Whatever comes my way, I will trust you.
All my dreams, all my fears, held in your hands.
All my life, all of me, held in your hands.
(Sovereign, Chris Tomlin)
May your lives be marked by justice and love as we celebrate the Prince of Peace. Emmanuel.
Happy Christmas and so much love, KWW