Sunday, November 30, 2014


I don't know exactly where it ranks on the whole humility scale, but trying to become competent in another language is surely one of the most humbling experiences I've encountered. Now, I've had humiliating experiences before (like when I was in junior high and was running because I was late for the bus, which was sitting there at the end of our driveway. I slipped in the slush and had mud all over the side of my pant leg as the kids on the bus were laughing and yelling at me. Yeah, that was humiliating.), but those things happen in an instant - the feeling of embarrassment is intense, the memory lingers for a while, and then you move on and, hopefully, can eventually laugh about it. In contrast, the humility that is required with language learning is a daily trudge. You get these moments of exhilaration when you reach new peaks, but you are regularly - oh so much more frequently - reminded that you are still only functioning at the level of a child. You've come with all of this professional experience to share and a desire to develop meaningful relationships, and yet you're limited to the vocabulary of a second grader. It's one of the major motivators for me to keep going, though. Not because I'm trying to get past having to be humble (I know I need to be humbled whether I want to or not), but because I so badly want to be able to connect with Khmer people. It's why I'm here. If I let pride get in the way I'll never get there. So, for now, I strain to catch as many words as I can, yet sit there dumbfounded while everyone else is laughing at the joke someone just made. I know it will come with time. John Piper is always talking about "Don't waste your...." Fill in the blank with whatever hard thing you're going through. I guess I need to not waste this opportunity for humility.