Learn to speak the language of love (but also take no crap).

One of my favorite Mexico stories is when I botched the Spanish language big time.

I’ve been to Mexico many times and I have a daughter and son-in-law who live there, so I have a special love for Mexico, and the people that live there. Hispanic people are amazing and I have had the opportunity see just how amazing they are, and I learn something from each visit there. Oh, and I also love street tacos. Now that love runs deep. So deep. I have tacos in my veins.

All that said, I am truly not bilingual. I can understand some Spanish, but I am not great at speaking it. I am trying. My kids who live there are bilingual, so I’m trying to learn so that I can communicate better, but it’s a slow and painful process, particularly when you are as caucasian as they come…hello, it’s me, white girl from southern Idaho. Yep, that’s me. I still have tacos in my veins though, ok?

Several years ago, I was in Baja California with Maggie and Molly. Fortunately, I was with a group that had much better skills than I did in Spanish. We were heading out to give some food and supplies to locals who really needed them. I wanted to be able to say something in Spanish, so I asked some of the group members how to say, ‘Jesus loves you’ in Spanish. They told me and I was ready to go. Before we left, I decided to repeat what I had practiced. In the most confident way I could, I said, ‘Me llamo is Jesus’. Yeah, so that means, ‘My name is Jesus.’ So I was prepared to go out and tell every single person we saw that my name was Jesus. If that doesn’t tell you my Spanish level of comprehension, I don’t know what does. Fortunately they helped me, and finally, I got it right, Jesus te Ama’.

Everyone lived and no one was embarrassed – except me, but it still makes me laugh to this day. I’m hopelessly unilingual. Is that a word? If not, it is now. Maybe it’s monolingual? I give up, maybe I’m not even good at my native language.

Today I was thinking about speaking the language of love. It’s uncommon in our world today, and it takes practice. I mess it up a lot, but I am trying to learn. I’m not fluent in the language of love either. I’m just about as bad at it as I am at the Spanish language. I’ll never get it perfect, but I am committed to trying. What does that look like? Here’s what I’m learning and trying to apply in my life.

  1. Speaking the truth, in love. This one is only as strong as the relationship. If I’m in relationship with someone that I want to preserve, this is necessary. Total honesty and being forthright is the only way. It means being able to be fully me in the relationship, and sometimes that means the other person won’t be happy. But with an eye toward love, how I approach those conversations is key. If I’m unkind in that process, it can damage the relationship. It’s not easy! Sometimes in a weak relationship, this is too much, and the relationship is harmed. I’ve got to take that risk sometimes though, because I can only be authentically me, and I’ve got to be true to myself and who God made me to be.
  2. Standing up for myself when I need to. There are times to fully stand up for myself and that means taking a strong position and staying in it. Listening and compromise are important, but there are times when being loving is actually showing others exactly where you begin and more importantly where you END. It’s scary to do, but sometimes it’s got to be done. No matter what others think, I am my own best advocate. I choose these times wisely, but it’s more prevalent on the big issues and dealing with the world in general. If I’m being loving to myself, I’m going to stand up and fight. Period.
  3. Being silent when I need to. Silence can be a huge help in remaining in a posture of love. When things have reached a point where there isn’t any help that can come by arguing, fighting, or proving, then sometimes the most loving thing to do for myself and for others is just to shut up. This one requires letting go of what other people think. Hello, I have tacos in my veins, but also people-pleasing runs deep for me. This one is hard for me, and I hate it when people don’t understand me. Silence means letting that go, and walking away to be the person I want to be. Loving myself and knowing God loves me.
  4. Refusing to harbor bitterness. No matter which option above is the right one (and let’s be honest, sometimes all three are necessary at different points in life) bitterness has no place in my life, ever. It’s not easy to stay away from this one, because wrong and unfair and unkind things will happen in life. It’s an imperfect world we live in, and stuff happens. Sometimes I do wrong, unkind, and unfair things to others too. I know it’s a shocker, but I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be an angry or bitter person as I move forward in life. In order to not be that way, I have to choose differently. It’s a process, just like forgiveness, but so worth it. It keeps me from sinking in to a pit of self-pity or doubt, and allows me to be the person I want to be. I’m imperfect, flawed, messed up, obviously not bilingual, but I am a person worth caring for. That starts with me. No matter what. This also allows me to love others unconditionally. That means even my enemies. It can be a daily battle, but it’s one I’m willing to fight, so that I can live the best life that God has intended for me.

If this helps you, please take what you want and leave the rest. If not, that’s ok too. This is a reminder for me, and if my transparency is of any benefit to you, you are welcome to read along.

Love, Leslie

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