When We Stutter

Deep in conversation, I recall once telling my sisters, “I just want to be heard.”  I can’t bring to mind what the original question was.  But I remember how I answered because it surprised me.  You know, one of those answers that you have a vague gut-feeling about but have not yet identified.  When the line between the two is breached, and when those thoughts come spilling out, as a dam released, such clarity can emerge.  Clarity washed over me as I said the words, “I just want to be heard.”


Sister Lindsay,  Mom Shelley,  Me,  Sister Sharleen

Isn’t that what we all want?  We want to be known.  We want to be understood.  We want to be nodded with.  We want to know our thoughts matter.

Our Christian school has a student population of somewhere around 550.  Within that population, we have a decent-sized international student population, maybe 20 students, mostly Korean.  I love having them as part of our student body.  Our local students benefit from the richness of recognizing a larger international world beyond themselves.  The international students benefit in the same way, and the world opens up to them as improve their English.  I hope they come to experience the love, acceptance, and forgiveness of Jesus through our community as well.

I’ve been doing some work with our international students.  My respect for them is amplified as I spend time with them.  It is difficult to spend formative years of your life in a place of second-language.  We all want to be heard.  We all want to be known.  But how frustrating it must feel when you are struggling with even the most basic language!

One particular Korean student comes to mind–…and oh my goodness, his English is poor.  His foreign accent is strong.  His wheels visibly turn when you speak with him, but it is so painful to wait for him to think of and choose the English word he wants to say.  It takes much time for him to stutter even a basic sentence in English.  I would guess that many people do not have the patience it requires to stay and listen.  But if you can conjure up your patience, you are in for a treat.  He is incredibly sincere.  He is hard-working in class.  And he has thrown himself into the fight, whereas some students simply avoid engagement.  He has plenty to say, but he is impeded by the Jericho Wall of language.  He is trying hard to be heard.  We will see exponential growth in him this year.

Aren’t we all like this in the language of the heart?

When it comes to forming the most basic statements of heart-language, we stutter.  We can’t find or form the words.  Or we won’t try.  Or we are in a hurry.  It is the perfect storm of heart-sickness.  It is the inability to communicate with our loved ones and/or our own private selves.

We want to be heard.  But do we slow down enough to listen?