Speaking Their Language

“Habona-Grits Habona-Hits”. Not Hebrew. My son’s name for this large pipe-like
contraption which is nestled in the corner of our co-op’s garage. For
the longest I didn’t have the foggiest clue why he would start singing
those words when we went down there but when I finally figured out what
Ha-BAH-na GRITS – Ha-BAH-na-HITS was I was still puzzled.

I’ve stricken the possibility that he’s referring to something on tv.
The rhyming of Grits and Hits is just way too intelligent (and odd) for
anything on tv. The usual suspects came to my mind, and I’m thinking
Dr. Seuss has some funky contraptions with rhyming names and since he
likes Grits and Hitting, he might’ve decided to dub the contraption a
Dr. Seuss creation. It really does look like a funky mix of Sylvester
McMonkey McBean’s fix-it machine (for the Sneetches who wanted stars
upon thars) and the Audio-Telly-o-Tally-o Count (which plops and drops
little balls in a cup so that we can know who is asleep and who is
still up).

It got me thinking about language again. In that post I was talking
about the importance in speaking the tongue of the audience—but now I
want to focus on how language is more than just tongues. You married
folk know what I’m talking about.

There you are, your wife says “I’m so tired of dishes” and you grunt in
acknowledgment. She said words that you can hear and understand
linguistically, but you didn’t get what she was saying at all. Or a kid
says “I’m so bored” when he has a room full of toys and things….Mom
looks at him and starts asking him which toy should he play with. Same
words—way different language.

Anytime we have discussion with other people, we find out how different
their language is. Ideas clashing, concepts crossing over, jokes flying
right over a head—it happens all the time. Sometimes there are people
who have such a unique personal language that common things go right by
them because they’re analyzing it.

I gotta admit, that I play around with this stuff. I often say things
to my friends in different ways trying to find out what exactly is the
way they hear what I’m saying better. It’s interesting that an open
homosexual pseudo-Christian co-worker friend of mine easily grasps what
I’m saying while actual professing believers might miss the point
completely. It’s not that the concept is hard, it’s that somewhere
along the line (maybe it’s where we’ve grown up and stuff) language
diverged.

As a person responsible for teaching others the Scriptures, I often
need an in-road into the audience’s language. This becomes all the
harder when the audience is older. Older folk don’t speak my language
and have a hard time coming to terms with it. I have to speak to them
with respect and with extreme patience (very, very difficult for me).
The younger folk don’t mind playful disrespect but if they feel that
disrespect crossover into actual disrespect, they feel marginalized and
squashed—very tough line to walk if one dares to walk it.

Paul’s God given wisdom comes to the fore again. Don’t rebuke older
men—appeal to them like fathers. Speak to older women as mothers. Speak
to the younger men as brothers—you can joke around with some of them,
but realize you guys are basically siblings. Speak to the younger women
as sisters with respect and purity (1 Tim 5:1-2).

Timothy had a tough job and most of the time he wouldn’t be able to
mold the audience to be able-bodied listeners and students. So much so,
that he didn’t much enjoy those encounters—feeling those stomach acids
start up again.

Paul’s words were sound: In any given situation when an encounter
between yourself and another person is going to occur, throw out all
that thinking of how They should respond. Instead, focus on how you
present and teach. It’s probably easier to mold yourself than the other
person—so do it. In so doing, you work towards becoming a (wo) Man of
God (2 Tim 3:10-17). You take responsibility for what you’re saying,
and how you present it, because as a teacher your judgment is stricter
(James 3:1).

So in your teaching, or exhortations, or personal discipleship or
conversations of correction or with your spouses—remember that they
speak another language even though they speak your tongue. Habona
Grits, Habona Hits means nothing until you dig in and try to figure it
out. Learn that language…not to manipulate…but to constantly act out in
love towards each other.

-r-

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