Learning languages with love

An understanding of God as Love and as the one divine Mind brings freedom from limiting beliefs about one’s capacity to communicate effectively. 

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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Have you ever noticed that it’s not always the person who speaks a language flawlessly who is the best communicator? Sometimes a person who’s speaking a second language may not speak it well technically but nevertheless articulates with such conviction and truthfulness that the listener is swept away by the power and eloquence of what is shared.

To me this indicates that true communication transcends words and is determined by thoughts and inspiration. “When the heart speaks, however simple the words, its language is always acceptable to those who have hearts,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 262).

I’ve found that Christian Science brings a unique, healing perspective to the study of languages. It helps us understand what is eternally true about God, the divine Mind, and about each of us as the spiritual expression of His intelligence. This gives us practical tools to improve our communication and language skills.

For example, instead of approaching the learning of a language with the notion that we’re a blank slate until we learn something, we can approach it with the idea that as God’s children we reflect all of divine Mind’s infinite knowing. Therefore, the capacity to speak new languages is actually native to us.

This spiritual perception frees us from limiting beliefs about our capacity to learn any knowledge or skill. The Gospel of John in the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). God’s natural expression of Himself, the Word, is always speaking to each of us in the form of ideas regardless of what languages we speak.

This idea has helped me both to grasp the spirit of what others are saying and to respond effectively. For instance, once I was preparing to co-lead a workshop in Lisbon, Portugal. I considered myself an intermediate speaker of Portuguese. My colleague and I were to present ideas for about an hour, while the second hour would consist of questions and answers.

I prepared myself with some of these ideas about listening and comprehension as spiritual qualities native to me. And I knew that first and foremost I would hear and express divine Love, which is another name for God.

I found that at the meeting I felt so much love for the people there that I didn’t even think about maybe not understanding them or not being able to convey what I needed to say. Both hours of the workshop went smoothly.

When learning a language, it’s important to conjugate verbs correctly and pronounce vowels and consonants accurately, but ultimately communicating well in any language requires love. In fact, the spiritual purpose of language is to express divine Love itself.

The Gospels give no indication that Jesus was a linguist. Yet what he communicated touched and healed a wide variety of listeners, from a tax collector to an officer in the Roman army to a woman of Samaria, a region where they worshiped God in a different way than the Jews. Jesus’ love and message were so embracing and healing that listening hearts were touched, sometimes by the thousands, and lives were changed for the better.

To communicate in a way that heals is a beautiful desire that’s appropriate and achievable for every one of us. As the Bible says, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14).

Adapted from a July 25, 2011, article now located on JSH-Online.com.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.