Our Mother Tongue

One of my dear daughters recommended that I should read “In Other Words”, a book by Jhumpa Lahiri. Kate knows me well, so of course I loved the book, and was inspired through its pages in many ways (for example, today I ordered some grammar books, and subscribed myself to a website with hundreds of exercises to perfect -hopefully- my English).

Speaking more than one language gives you more than the title of “bilingual,” it actually shapes you and changes you and the way you think in many unimaginable ways. As we add new words to our vocabulary, more adverbs and adjectives, grammar rules and their exceptions, we advance a bit further in the pool of that other language, we start feeling more comfortable; however, and I find it ironic, is that at the end of the day, we still catch ourselves not finding the “right” word at times. Not in English, not in Spanish, not in French.

I taught my children English (as their second language) since they were very little. My English was not perfect, my pronunciation, accent, and cadence have always been there, witnessing that English is not my mother tongue. But I wanted to give them this gift, and though it was so time consuming and much harder than just teaching them Spanish, my husband and I decided that we would do it anyhow. Now I can confidently say that all of them speak much better English than I do. All of them are my teachers and all of them (including my daughters-in-law) are patient with me when I ask them to help me understand a grammar concept, the usage of an specific word, and how to pronounce words like facade and entree.

All this helps me explain what I want it to be the heart of this post: there is one language that we, Christian mothers, need to teach diligently to our children from morning to evening, Sunday thru Saturday, and that is the Gospel language. We must do it intentionally, we must practice it ourselves, we must do all that it takes so that they may learn how to love it and make it their own.

No matter if we don’t -yet- understand all the ins and outs of it. No matter, if we don’t feel adequate or not. We must do it. We must open our Bibles daily and teach them from it, read from it, pray it with them until they know it by heart, until they can recognize it as their mother tongue. We can do this by faith, expecting that in God’s grace they will become better at speaking it, better at understanding it, better at remembering it, better at applying it, better at living it out than us.

And this is also where I come to realize that no matter how many languages a Christian person can speak, the language of the Kingdom of God, the language of the Gospel, of true love, of self-sacrifice, of compassion, is the language that we all need to be proficient in. The Gospel language is the one that we can never stop practicing. Because we all know that lack of practice is what makes one forget all the Spanish from highschool, ¿verdad?

May God grant us more love for His Word so that we may become more fluent in the language of the Kingdom as we speak to our children, our husband, our friends.

Grace upon grace,

Becky

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