Potty Mouth, the Shortcomings of the English Language, and the Gift of Tongues
This week, I had a really unrefined moment of thinking… I was reliving a conversation with a dear friend the night before. She started the phone call with the sweetest, “I miss you.” She'd been reminiscing over old photos and videos. I was just thinking just now, how I miss her too. Like just HOW MUCH I miss her. Here's the unrefined part... I briefly wished for the days of my potty mouth. Because if I was still a swearing woman, I’d probably say something like “I miss you so [bleepity-bleep-bleeping] much!” just to try to express the intensity of my missing her. I thought without my old potty mouth, I don’t really know other words in my language to express this that is in my soul.
And then “saudade” came to me. As if the Holy Spirit (who graciously knows my every thought!) came to my rescue, entered my mind, and delivered the perfect word to me on a platter. "Saudade."
Saudade is a Portuguese word I learned while visiting Brazil. We don’t have a word like it in English. It’s an expression of deeply, intensely longing for and missing someone.
And then the Lord dropped this huge revelation in my lap in an instant:
There are concepts my native tongue cannot express. I have no words for them. But every culture, nation and tribe and tongue on earth has its own unique niche of experiences and that transforms and informs the ways and words they have developed to express their souls.
My language may fall short in areas of emotion, but it may provide the exact administrative or technological word that someone of another tongue needs to express their minds. So we borrow from each other. In linguistics, they have a term that I have always loved… That language is elastic. It bends, transforms, morphs to meet the changing needs of culture and times.
There are many languages on earth. And there are many heavenly languages too. This is why you should desire the gift of tongues. (Those of you who feel all weird about that gift, stay with me here The gift of administration and service are in the very same list as prophecy and gift of tongues. They're all under the same Christmas tree so be cautious not to judge the unfamiliar as weirder in your heart. Ok. Ready to go on to some unfamiliar territory? Let's go...)
There are things your spirit is groaning and aching to express to the Lord that can’t be expressed in your native English or Japanese or Portuguese or Thai. It’s been said that your prayer language is the perfect prayer between your spirit and the Lord. Maybe that’s because the gift of tongues can borrow from any language on earth or heaven above in order to express itself in prayer and supplication.
When Paul exhorts us to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, he means it. Ask for more! Like a two-year old at Christmas. Give me more please. This is fun and good and I love this! Be childlike and innocent and grateful and joyful in your asking. The Lord desires to give you goooooood good gifts. And this is one of them.
My prayer mentor once asked me, "Do you feel like you always know exactly what to pray for your family or your situations?" No. Of course not. But the Holy Spirit through me does. That's the perfect prayer.
When it comes to writing (or any other work you do), you can pray in the spirit while you work. Ms. Quin Sherrer just encouraged me to do so and I think that’s a profound idea. I sing in the spirit on occasion or while doing laundry. But to ask for that power through prayer language while writing…. Ligao! (Portuguese for “Cool!”) Give it a shot! Love to hear about the breakthroughs that happen in the spiritual realm when you pray in your prayer language. And if you have not received that gift yet, do ask. And ask others to lay hands on you and join you in asking for it too.
Feel free to reach out to me with any questions about this. If I don’t know the answers, I’m sure I know a few people who do. : )