Well, I’ve finished my first week and a half of linguistics classes. The program I’m enrolled in is accelerated, with a semester’s worth of instruction crammed into one month. Take that times three classes, and you’ve got the idea.
Already this has been a learning experience for me, and I’m not talking solely about linguistics, here. See, for my last two undergraduate degrees, I held a 4.0 GPA. I’m used to being the “smart” kid in class; school has always been easy and fun for me.
At least I’ve still got the “fun” part down. Imagine every linguistic nerd you’ve ever known, and put forty of them in a room together for the entire day. Add free donuts, and you’ve got my school. Needless to say, I’m not the “smart” kid anymore. Now I’m just the fun one.
The main lesson I’ve learned (rather, re-learned) this week is that I’m not perfect. And my striving to be perfect in my schoolwork is, at its core, pride. This is something I’m having to recognize and work through. And frequently lecture myself about.
There’s a scripture that comes to mind when I think about school. In the King James version (happy 400th birthday, by the way!), 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Right. Study!
The main lecture I’ve been giving myself is a reminder of the big picture: I am going through this training so I can return to Africa (in one year!) and teach people how to read. This is God’s will for me; not to get an A+ in every class I take, but to prepare myself to do the work that He has ordained for me.
A more contemporary translation of 2 Timothy 2:15 speaks more clearly of this big picture. It says, “Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.”
Do your best. Nowhere do I read, “Beat your head against the wall if you don’t get the best grade in class.” This scripture will be my guidepost to remind me of my bigger purpose, and it’s not to get straight A’s. It is to bring the true message, the message of salvation through Christ, to the world.
The pressure’s off, so now I can admire the amazing linguistic gifts that God has gifted to so many wonderful people. And enjoy the free donuts.