What’s wrong with being good enough?

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“Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness…” Luke 12:15 ESV

I tumbled.

From an inflated view of myself.

Before the fall, the Father let me get away with preening for 36 hours. Then came the painful slap down. I felt shocked, humiliated, shamed, and sad.

My life’s vocation centers on language acquisition. God started me off with German at age 11 followed by French, thanks to a dad in the army and assignments to Germany and Belgium. Attending 9th grade in a French-speaking school introduced me to French and provided a strong base.  Eventually, the door opened for me to get certified to teach French and German.

French was my prime focus, for it is a more common offering in American schools. I did all I could to improve my French from using a French study bible, to trips with students and our family to listening to daily podcasts, reading novels and the occasional movie.  After 27 years in the classroom, I felt fluent.  I could talk with ease about most anything. Not native fluency.  But fluent for an American learner.

In March 2019, I retired when we moved to Huntsville, Alabama where Mike took a new job.  I turned my attention to learning Spanish.  With intense focus on this new language, I set French on the back burner, confident that I wouldn’t lose my facility with it.

Then suddenly, a French friend whose video content I used in my classroom for enrichment, asked me if she could interview me in French for her YouTube channel.  She thought that my ‘aha!’ moments about language acquisition, given that I was now learning Spanish, together with my experience teaching French by means of comprehensible input rather than grammar would interest her audience.

I started listening to French podcasts and watching videos to refresh my skills.  We recorded in early September and the interview posted this past weekend on her channel. 

I knew I had made errors in French because my brain has been processing Spanish for the past 30 months. So, despite the inevitable grammar and vocab mistakes, I

felt pleased as I viewed the interview.

Before it posted, I had listed all the French speakers I knew with whom I could proudly share this interview.  I forwarded the link to some 15 contacts.  Yes, I felt proud.  And it felt good.

You can see where this is headed!

Sunday afternoon, I opened the video to copy the link to send to someone else. I paused and read the comments some viewers had posted below.

Here’s what popped my pride balloon.  Someone had written: ‘What level conversation would you say this is?’.  Alice, the host, replied: ‘intermediate’.

There it was, an objective evaluation of my ability to speak French. I was shocked.  Intermediate?  Me?

This hurt SO much for two reasons: First, I thought I was reasonably fluent. Second, shame flooded me in realizing with what pride I had forwarded on this interview.

The sadness grew deeper. Fatigue set in after dinner.  And I could hardly wait for bed.

I didn’t sleep well, awake some of the time going over and over how I felt.

But God!  This morning, with my journal opened, I read today’s passages.  Then I moved on to some scriptural prayers and devotions.

The Holy Spirit was speaking to me through scripture.  Slowly, he led me through the obvious pride diagnosis to deeper matters, more serious sins. A verse highlighting contentment shone a light on my covetousness. 

Picking up my pen, I wrote out a one-sentence prayer asking Jesus to strengthen me to be content in him, rather than seek contentment in my skill level of languages.

Then it hit me: “I have coveted fluency in languages for the praise of all people!”

My actions, my feelings, my thoughts, my goals have broadcasted for years: Christ is not enough to satisfy my deepest longings. Thinking that fluency in other languages will satisfy the desires of my heart, I have been off wandering, away from God.

People say pride is the worst sin. I agree.  But without seeing what fuels my pride, I can’t kill it.

Strangely with this Holy Spirit insight and my confession, I found hope rising, knowing that this new lesson is one step in God’s ‘holiness and happiness training’.

And what about being ‘good enough’? What a lovely and freeing life philosophy!  I’m embracing my intermediate-level French and where my Spanish is at this point.  Their levels are GOOD enough to help people.  I DID teach kids French for many years.  I AM ministering to Hispanic gals during my Tuesday morning shift at our city’s pregnancy resource center. The Spanish feels broken, but it is ‘good enough’. 

May I embrace trusting Jesus as my number one source of contentment and not wander off to other lovers.

Envy – that invisible sin

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Envying a bigger fish

 

 

 

It snuck up on me awares. First one friend’s good news, then another’s and finally a third – all in the space of 2 days.  Before I knew it, my coveting was in full bloom!  Thankfully , the Holy Spirit was on duty and drew my attention to what this was;  pure and simple – ugly SIN!

Funny how men are quick to confess their struggle against lust and women their indulgence in gossip.  But covetousness? envy?  – who admits that?  But you know that it must be a biggie, to have made it on God’s Top Ten List.

10 Commandments

 

 

 

What we wish we had that we don’t is also an indicator of our idols – the things we worship.  I’ve heard it said that the act of worship bookends the commandments – at the outset, the proper and exclusive worship of God, the Creator and at the end, the prohibition of worshipping the created.

So what did I do, a forgiven sinner who was forced to look her sin straight in the face?  I repented.  And again each time the longings flooded or floated back. Finally, when I had time to examine at length these desires full-on, God led me to a helpful way to put them into perspective.

If we are Christians, then we have been invited and vetted to permanently partake of the eternal heavenly feast, hosted by Jesus in His Father’s Kingdom.  That experience which will go on forever will literally be out-of-this-world in its magnitude and ability to satisfy and provide multi-dimensional joy the likes of which we can hardly begin to imagine.

Heavenly Feast

 

 

 

 

So whatever it is that I long for HERE on this earth is piddly in comparison.  The image that came to mind (thank you, Holy Spirit!) was of someone complaining about their snack in comparison to a friend’s snack, when all along we will both soon be dining at Buckingham Palace or the Biltmore Estate.

Biltmore

 

 

 

Envy is damaging because it destroys our contentment in God.  It keeps our focus OFF of God and on to lesser stuff.  It sets us up for the corrosive thought that we DESERVE something.  When all along as a pastor friend of mine likes to say, “What we deserve is Hell!  The fact that God offers us a pardon is astounding enough.  Everything else we get is a gift.  And that’s a lot of gifts!”

So maybe I’ll have some of my fleshly heart’s desires satisfied here on earth and maybe I won’t.  But the time spent here is a blink of the eye.  I love the way CS Lewis contrasts the length and satisfaction of life on earth to that of eternal life with the Father:

“But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
― C.S. LewisThe Last Battle  

Dream has ended CS Lewis

 

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