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Disheveled Theologian: Horror show!

I don’t mean to complain about God and his sovereignty, but I have to admit something. I wish he’d given me a few more skills in certain areas of my life. There are, in fact, three things that I wish God had thought, “Gee, I think I’ll give her a double portion of this particular skill.” There are probably more than three, but I’m trying not to be greedy.

I wish I were a better musician. I wish I could draw. I wish I could speak foreign languages.

I can sing OK … I used to be far better. I can play piano … a little. And if there ever were a contest for drawing stick figures, I’d enter for sure. But when it comes to speaking any language other than English, I am a failure.

I often hear stories of people who are good at languages. “She can speak seven languages,” they point out. (Somehow it always seems to be seven.) I can speak one.

Just the one.

I have mentioned to you, my faithful followers, my time spent in high school French class as well as time spent struggling with German when living in Germany. Given that history, you’d think that I would have known better than to attempt a brand-new language when I got to college. But no, at that point in my life I wanted to be a journalist and live in the center of the Cold War, so I eagerly dove into yet another language, optimistically believing that I could master this whole new alphabet and vocabulary and way of making my mouth move in order to produce comprehensible sounds.

I was fascinated by Russian culture. I’d even been to the USSR, in February of 1988, (speaking of cold). I collected Matryoshka dolls. I liked a good onion dome as well as the next person. I’d even read “War and Peace” …well, the peace parts, anyway. All I needed for my dream to come true was a little language skill.

I was raring to go! For about one and a half terms.

For some reason it took me that half term to finally admit I’d been defeated. I got sick and missed a week of class and that was the death knell of my Russian dream.

I do remember one word in Russian. Phonetically spelled, it’s “Hor-o-show,” which means, “good!” and was said by my teacher, Tanya, whenever her students got something right. “Ocheen Hor-o-show,” she would say. “Very good!” (Apparently I remember two words.)

But let me be perfectly clear here: I do not remember this phrase because of the numerous times it was said to me. I remember it because it was said to others. Other brilliant linguists with whom I was stuck for three hours a week in a small classroom in Villard Hall at the University of Oregon. Brilliant students who would answer brilliant questions with their brilliant accents.

“Hor-o-show!” Tanya would exclaim, smiling her brilliant smile.

At them.

Horror Show more like it, in my book.

And that, my friends, is why I live in Minnesota … and not in Moscow. I throw “bitte” into my vocabulary, or “merci” from time to time, even “uff da” because it’s regional.

But never “Hor-o-show”.

It’s a good thing that God loves us despite our failures. He doesn’t need me to be a linguist. He doesn’t need me to be a musician. Or an artist.

He just needs me to be me.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” Romans 12:6-8 NIV

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