It's easy to feel burdened by seasons of life that feel stagnant. But are we "writing-off" these parts of life as unimportant, without realizing what God is doing? What if we believe that God is working in our lives daily with the purpose He claims to have for each of us in His Word? What if we believe that God is present and active in even our most mundane, routine, boring days?
** Disclaimer: My nerdy side is about to come out real strong right now, but I promise there is a purpose to this post if you can stick with me to the end ;)
As some of you know, I am currently a university student with a focus on Spanish, French, and English (can you tell I love languages...) Although adjusting to living in the States again was difficult at first, I have to say that I am so thankful for this season of life and the many ways that God has been blessing me lately. I am so passionate about cultures and communication, and I believe that language is the integral piece that ties those two things together. So spending 20 hours/week studying languages feels like a dream (also I just weirdly love school haha.)
This quarter one of my classes is English linguistics, in which I am learning so much about the intricacies of my native tongue and how it compares to other world languages. I was recently introduced to the idea of "meaningful sounds," and how we as English speakers learn to ignore the "meaningless sounds" in our language as we communicate with one another.
One of these "meaningless" sounds in English is aspiration. For example, put your hand in front of your face and say the word "pin," and then the word "spin." Do you feel the little burst of air on your hand as you say "pin"? Notice how you do NOT feel that same burst of air when you say "spin." This is because as native English speakers, we naturally aspirate certain consonants, like "p," when they begin a word, but not when they follow other letters. However to us, the "p" in "pin" and the "p" in "spin" sound like the same letter.
This is not the case universally. In Korean, the word /pal/ means "arm" when you aspirate the "p," but it means "foot" when you do not aspirate it. In Hindi, the word /tal/ can mean either "plate," "beat," "wood shop," or "postpone," depending on just that little puff of air.
Tone (like pitch in music) is another aspect of language that we English speakers tend to ignore, as it does not denote meaning. However, in a language like Thai, Lao, or Chinese, the exact same "word" can mean something completely different simply by changing the tone. Did you know that native Chinese speakers are significantly more likely than native English speakers to have perfect pitch? This is because they are accustomed to "listening" for tone in their everyday lives, whereas English speakers tend to tune out this part of language, as it is not important for our understanding of conversation.
These kind of language norms go both ways. In languages like English or Spanish, the difference between the letters "r" and "l" is obvious, but in a language like Chinese, these two letters sound the same. I noticed this when I lived in Honduras and would go to the Chinese restaurant owned by immigrants. They would offer me "aloz chino" instead of "arroz chino" (Chinese rice)- which sounded comical in Spanish, but to a native Chinese speaker, the difference is hardly noticeable.
This idea kind of blew my mind as I began to realize all of the language rules I follow subconsciously, and all of the parts of language that I never even realized existed before. There is so much happening in the English language that we don't realize, just because we aren't listening for it.
"What if we believe that God is present and active in even our most mundane, routine, boring days?"
I think our lives are the same way. It's easy to feel burdened by seasons of life that feel stagnant. I think seasons of waiting especially tend to play that role. But are we "writing-off" these parts of life as unimportant, without realizing what God is doing? What if we believe that God is working in our lives daily with the purpose He claims to have for each of us in His Word? What if we believe that God is present and active in even our most mundane, routine, boring days?
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28
I can't tell you how drastically different the last few seasons of my life have been in comparison to one another. After backpacking around the world last year, now living back in my hometown as a college student could have easily felt "boring." I mean, talk about anti-climactic.... To be honest, the first three months back here were really difficult and did feel that way.
But what God has been teaching me this year, is that our joy, peace, and purpose is not rooted in our physical location or season of life, but rather in our confidence in who He is and who we are as His children. I am learning to seek Him and His purpose for me daily, regardless of what country I am in.
Of course, I can't deny that I love adventure and foreign cultures, and I hope that my future holds much of that still. But I have accepted that "adventure" might not always look like living in a foreign country. Maybe it will. But I trust that God is working wherever I am, I just need to look for it. Plus, I think that a life dedicated to Christ and seeking His will each and every day is pretty adventurous in itself. :)
I challenge you to seek out God TODAY. Look for what He's doing as you go grocery shopping, as you get your kids dressed in the morning, as you head to class, or as you pick up your morning coffee. Because I guarantee He is there. We just forget to look sometimes.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." - Matthew 7:7
All of the photos in this post are from the beautiful Seattle, Washington.
To see more from this city near where I live, click here.
I believe in God's grace through Jesus. I love to learn, in a variety of contexts - reading God's Word, interacting with people from diverse backgrounds around the world, and as a student of Linguistics and Foreign Languages at Western Washington University. Pages of My Passport is dedicated to sharing this journey of learning through written and visual content.