you oughta know

Aside from being completely humbled, laughed at questioned and shénme’ed”, learning Chinese has been pretty fun. I would probably go so far as to say that it is the steepest learning curve I have ever
been on. (as if it were some sort of ride, no doubt)


Well, let me tell you. There are days when I feel like I have been perfectly stopped at the highest point of a Ferris Wheel with nuthin’ but the big blue sky and fresh air…days where I feel like I am literally on top of the world (Those days usually consist of me walking home from class with a smile on my face thinking “Man, I SOOO Got this!!” …while listening to The Jackson 5) 

But then…there are days when feel like I’m on the Pirate Ship ride at the county fair, sitting in puke while swinging from one high to another… all the while thinking something like “this is quite possibly the farthest thing from a Pirate Ship, and I certainly am not retaining anything”. (Usually, on days like this, I walk home Charlie Brown style, thinking “wow, that dog laying in the middle of the road understands more Chinese than me, sweet” while listening to Dashboard Confessional.

Do you know what I mean though?

Learning curves are weird and sometimes make me feel weird too.

Anyway, enough about that. Recently I have made a discovery. (cue Bill Nye the Science Guy theme song) It is not a new and or profound discovery, but it is something that I have come to realize in the journey of  language learning and its this:

When you are determined to learn something new, vulnerability takes on a new and completely different meaning.

Previously I mentioned that I have felt incredibly humbled while learning language–while this is very true, vulnerability I would say has been the bed in which humility has made for itself. Because I want to be able to communicate to my Taiwanese friends and just people in general, I find myself going to great lengths to understand how to not just say “cat, dog, yes, no, and the occasional random word like “dinosaur” or “diaper”, but also words that would describe my life and my passions and my relationship with Jesus.  So while in class, I just start talking…and talking…and talking.  But, someone gets to hear all of my nonsense and secrets and life stories and passions…right?


That’s right, my incredible Chinese teacher! I am pretty sure she knows many personal things about my health, family and just life in general.


Because in order to communicate and communicate effectively, you need to “figure out”/learn how to speak properly. I often joke with my teacher about how she knows SOOOOO much about other people and his/her business. She agrees, but has also sworn to secrecy. That’s comforting.

In case you are wondering how she knows so much, here is an example: If I have a new vocabulary word and a new sentence structure, she will ask me to make a sentence. So, naturally I want to make a sentence that I will actually use and something that is actually true…see what I’m getting at?

Let’s just say, I have made many a personal sentence. 🙂

So… as I fumble my way through learning Chinese, I am also learning a ton about being vulnerable with people. Of course, not an awkward amount of vulnerability, but somewhere in between the….

“That is almost awkward and wow, thank you for sharing”.

I am coming to realize that to the extent we are wiling to be vulnerable, to that extent are we ourselves being slowly broken down to the true reality of freedom…and it’s beautiful.


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