I’ve been trying to learn Spanish my whole life.
- Two years of Spanish classes in high school.
- Tapes and CDs.
- Rosetta Stone with my kids.
- Writing to friends in El Salvador and Guatemala.
- And now, daily lessons with the Duolingo app.
But to little avail (despite what Duolingo tells me).
I casually eavesdropped on Spanish-speaking vacationers this past weekend at the beach.
Yet I never understood anything they were saying.
My conclusion: I’m better at reading Spanish than communicating with it.
What use is that?
In our spiritual lives, don’t we often feel the same way?
- We know the hymns.
- We can quote the scriptures.
- We can retell the Bible stories.
But if we’re not loving people in our real lives in tangible ways, what use is it?
See if you relate to this paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 (author unknown):
“If I am cultured and refined, and in touch with the pain of existence, but am absent from the pain of persons in the present moment who need my empathy; and if I act without love and compassion, then I am nothing at all.
If I have the gifts of wisdom, insight, and understanding, but am not engaged with those around me in the present moment and am without a spirit of compassion and love, then I am nothing at all.
If I am faithful, loyal, and obedient, and never deviate from the law, but am judgmental and blaming, and am without love, then I am nothing at all.”
Heads without hearts help no one.
One way to change that? Hang out with the natives. With those who are naturally good at serving, at loving, at speaking the language we want to communicate. With those who know God.
- If we want a better marriage, mimic those who have a good marriage.
- If we want to be a better parent, befriend those who’ve raised strong children.
- If we want to be a better servant, walk alongside someone as they do it.
And if I want to speak better Spanish, talk more with Spanish speakers.
To improve, it’s not always more head knowledge we need.
It’s godly practice.
With our voices, our hands, our lives.
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What’s something you want to improve in? How are you learning it? Please share in the comments.
- The Practice of Pronouncing Blessings
- Look Closer: The Practice of Encounters
- Go Barefoot: The Practice of Walking on Earth
- If Your Life Is Too Stuffed, Get Unstuffed
- Six Books I Recommend – June 2016