With English being my native language, I am tempted to think I have the world conquered. I mean with English, you can go pretty much anywhere, right? And when I do have problems understanding, it isn’t my fault, right? It must be the fault of the speaker!
The other day a friend sent me a video. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand a word that was said. Knowing the friend was from a bilingual country, I naturally assumed they were speaking the other language in the video. I was incredibly humbled to later learn that the speakers in the video had actually been speaking English… I was simply not familiar with their accent!
Many parts of the world speak English with different accents; and if you are not used to a particular accent, it can be difficult to understand. Take, for example, my husband. After 40+ years of speaking primarily English, he still has trouble understanding the accent of the southern USA. But let’s remember that to those we are having trouble understanding, we are the ones with accents!
Think for a minute about all those who help us with technical problems from across the ocean. We have trouble understanding them, and they have trouble understanding us. Why is it that we assume it is because they are not native speakers? Why is it that as human beings, our first go-to in the face of a problem is the point the finger the other way? The other person is different from us, and therefore, he or she must be wrong, right? And as a result, they are automatically branded as “wrong”, while we stay firmly perched on our pedestal, insisting that we are –“right”!
But wait. What do you think might happen if, just for once, we were to take responsibility for problems? What if, instead of blaming someone for causing the breakdowns, we looked to ourselves?
Thinking once again about how those who help us with technical issues on the phone have trouble understanding us… Besides the fact that we may speak with an accent they might not be used to, we know that they work in crowded rooms with hundreds of others on similar calls. The background noise levels are really high. What if we were to make an effort to speak slowly and clearly? What if we go off speaker-phone and try to conduct the call from a quiet location? What if we were to try to avoid colloquialisms and stick to basic English?
Wait. All these “what if”s… Aren’t they beginning to sound like something a very, very wise Jesus once admonished us to do? “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.’… Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:1-5,12 NLT)
Think about how much animosity could be avoided if everyone followed these commands…
Of course, not everyone will, but that does not change our own responsibility. As a follower of Christ, our responsibility is to stop pointing the finger at others. We need to treat others as we wish to be treated. We must do everything in our own power to help others!
Even when we might have to admit that maybe, just maybe, the problem lies in … us?
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.