Often times we remain stagnant in different aspects of our lives and don't notice until many years down the line. One of the worst feelings is knowing you have wasted precious time and resources.
I began to learn Spanish when I was about nine years old. My mother brought a CD home, it was filled with games and exercises to help me and my siblings learn another language. Around the same time I also decided I wanted to get baptised, because of all I'd learnt about Christ.
In the following years life became more complicated and I became more distracted. I would still watch the gospel channels on television and listen to Christian radio stations on my way to and from school. However, I was in secondary school—where the study Spanish was no longer for leisure but required—and Christianity was a mere religious title devoid of true substance.
Nonetheless, I was quite confident in my ability to get good grades in Spanish and so I didn't pay much attention in class. Neither did I go home and learn the vocabulary. The only time I'd pay attention to Spanish was when I attempted to translate advertisements or if I had homework, for which online translation websites were my closest friends.
By now my second language head start was no longer evident. Soon I hated Spanish and treated it like I would my turn to wash the dishes. Nonetheless, every time I had a final exam and I began to cram, I would fall in love with the language again. I loved rediscovering the vocabulary. I loved the feeling I got when I understood a grammatical structure I had been too lazy to think about before.
A few weeks or days before an exam I would pray to God to help me pass the course and promise Him from now on I'd work harder at Spanish. However, this cycle repeated itself all the way to the end of my first year of University. Why I was still studying Spanish? I had no idea, but I felt as though I'd come too far to give up on it.
Perception and reality
At the very beginning of my second year Spanish began to get more difficult and I seriously wanted to throw in the towel. I realised my relationship with studying Spanish was much like my relationship with my faith.
I studied hard when my back was up against the wall. I only skimmed the text book instead of studying. I didn't communicate with others in the language and felt shy about letting others know I was studying, for fear they would test my knowledge and I would fail.
It was then my perception of myself as a 'decent Christian' changed. Just like Spanish I was barely passing and blaming my poor performance on everything—from the teaching style to being too busy.
My eyes strayed far from the prize. I had wrong priorities and my self-pitying and lack of study were letting me down.
It was customary for me to sit in class or church and simply hear what was being said without participating—doing my own research, meditating on it, reading ahead, or actually putting what I'd learnt into consistent practice. Just like in The Parable of the Talents from Matthew chapter 25, verses 14–29, I'd taken what the Master had given me but was too lazy to improve on it.
'Time and tide wait for no man.'
- Geoffrey Chaucer
As I reflect on the eleven years since I began learning Spanish and was baptised, I cannot help but feel disappointed in myself. In that time I know I could have learnt several languages, finished reading the Bible more than once and grown in my faith to the point where I love others even half as much as Christ does.
'It's never too late—in fiction or in life—to revise.'
- Nancy Thayer
I struck gold when I really understood that everything in life is a process: "Everything on earth has its own time and its own season..." (Ecclesiastes chapter 3)
So what has eleven years of wandering taught me?
It simply is not worth doing anything aimlessly. Like in the Parable of the Five Wise and Five Foolish Virgins (Matthew Chapter 25) I recognise how easy it is for us to fall into the category of the unprepared if we fail to prepare when we have the time. For as we have all heard before, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." – Benjamin Franklin.
"Let wisdom be your sister and make common sense your closest friend."
- Proverbs chapter 7, verse 4
Danielle Jones was born on the beautiful island of Barbados to phenomenal parents. She is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Drama as a part of a joint programme between the University of the West Indies, Mona and the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. She hopes to speak fluent Spanish someday, do global missionary work and spread the love of Christ.
Danielle Jones' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/danielle-jones.html