I’ve said it time and time again. I love meeting new people. I love talking with people and finding a commonality that connects us. I can usually find at least one thing that we share. We’re both moms with kids, dog owners, shop at the same grocery store, or obsessed with The Bachelor. We share a common language even though it might be small.
I was born in New Orleans. I lived in that general area for the first 10 years of my life. I don’t have an accent like a local since my parents weren’t from there originally, but I can pick out even a slight New Orleans accent when I hear it. My ears perk up, my eyebrows raise and I look to see who is talking because someone is speaking one of my languages. I love that.
And teachers. We have our own language! We say and do things that others might not understand. If I walked into a room filled with plumbers, teachers, basketball players, and doctors, I would be most comfortable talking with the other teachers, because they speak my language. We could talk about common core and standardized testing. We could use acronyms that the others wouldn’t know and use the word specials as a noun. It’s what we do.
The same thing happens when I hear someone speaking Turkish. I lived in Turkey for 7 years so I was immersed in the Turkish language and culture. I miss it. Several years ago when I was working at Panera, a Turkish woman came in and we had a conversation in Turkish. It flowed fairly seamlessly from English to Turkish back then. I didn’t think much about it while I was talking, but my coworkers wanted to know what in the hell that was when the woman left. It was one of my languages. Another time, I followed a Turkish family around in the grocery store pretending to shop just to hear them talk to each other. It had been 2 years since I’d heard Turkish spoken by a real live Turk, and I couldn’t help it.
I also speak Christian vernacular quite fluently. I’ve spoken it my whole life so it is part of me. And while I can tone it down or turn it off so as not to sound like an offensive, self-righteous prick, I like talking to people who get it. As long as they aren’t offensive, self-righteous pricks that is. Because I lived it and breathed it for so long, it is a heart language. One I enjoy speaking.
There’s also the lgbtq language. Learning this language made me the most nervous. I wondered if I would ever be fluent. I learned it slowly online at first, and then with one or two people in person. The first time I was ever in a group of gay people I realized that there were many dialects within the community, and I didn’t have to completely understand them all. I’ve loved going to the gay campground close by, because I hear various dialects of my language spoken there. I always learn something new.
My favorite thing about all the different languages I speak is when two or more of them intersect. I love talking to gay teachers. Christian Turks are a delight. Having a NOLA native sub at my school is great!
But the most significant connection for me is meeting and knowing gay Christians. When I went to the screening of the documentary Through My Eyes in April of 2009, I knew I had walked into a room full of my people. I talked to one guy for a long time. He told me about how God was working in his life. What he felt like God was calling him to do. I listened to him and could tell he meant every word he said. When he talked about laying it all out before the Lord and seeking His face, I knew he meant it. He was genuine. Authentic. And gay. It was refreshing to my heart to hear someone speaking the two languages I had the hardest time connecting at that point. And since they were both languages of my heart, I needed to connect them.
The thing about languages is this. We all move fairly fluidly through the different languages we speak on a daily basis. I don’t speak Teacher or Turkish or Social Media all the time nor do I want to. And even though Gay Christian is a heart language for me, I don’t even want to speak it all the time. I just love connecting with people who can easily speak the language of my heart and then tell me a dirty joke to make me laugh.
(I don’t really speak The Bachelor, but I threw it in as an example.)
(Other languages I used to speak fairly fluently but don’t anymore…Scrapbooking, Ladies Luncheon, and Baby Products.)
What languages do you speak?