English Is NOT My First Language

Growing up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I didn't know I was Asian.

Well, I knew I was one of the few "Japonesa" girls at school.  But without much forethought, I lived life and grew up in a multi-colored society.  My friends were a mix of Italians, "Mulatos", Germans, Japanese, and even Chileans (my very first crush in 5th grade was a boy from Chile!).  But we didn't label ourselves as such.  We were... just... Brazilians.  We SPOKE Portuguese.  All of us.  That was our first and ONLY language.  Nobody had a second language.  And nobody asked us for our ethnicity.  

Fast forward a decade or so... my family moved to Los Angeles, California.  I was 15 years old and for the first time in my life, I was asked questions like, "What are you?"  "What ethnicity are you?"  "Do you speak Japanese?"  "What are you speaking?"  "What's your FIRST language?"  And so on.  Also... English became THE language to conquer.  And conquer it I DID!  It took me a couple of years to start dreaming in a different language.  They say that once you dream in a language different than the one you learned as a child, you've become bilingual.  It means your brain is able to process information in a completely different set of words and rules and sounds.  Crazy, huh!  I'm not an expert in that, but I am amazed at how God designs our brains!

So there!  English is not my first language.  English is my SECOND language.  I do not speak Japanese.  I do not speak Chinese.  But yes, I still speak fluent Portuguese.  I can write, read, and speak it.  However, despite the fact that English became the language I now use the most, I rely on a DIFFERENT language.  

The HEART language.  The language that speaks directly to my heart.  To my soul.  To my spirit.  It has no words.  No structure.  No rules.  It sounds like a song.  A Bible verse.  A hug.  A smile.  A written note.  It's the sight of someone raising their hands at church.  A gentle breeze.  The majestic view of the mountains in Tennessee.  The sweetness of a newborn.  It's you and me, in community.  That's the language that speaks to my heart.  Regardless of whether you pray in Tagalog, Spanish, or old English.  If I hear you speaking to Jesus, my heart warms up.  And it points me to His character and love for me.  

This year I've decided to simplify my life by focusing on the most important things.  Jesus.  Family.  Community.  I'm decluttering, uninstalling, and unfollowing the "noise".  And it's been so freeing.  I'm learning to be intentional and available for those DAILY ENCOUNTERS with Jesus.  And I gotta say... I hear my heart language a lot more often these days!  And it brings me back to our constant need of filling our hearts with what matters.  

Like I said.  I'm not an expert on how our brains work.  And I'm definitely not an expert on how your heart operates.  But I KNOW that the more I invest in filling my own heart, the more I'm able to serve others...my husband, my children, and my community.  

So, what's your first language?  What is your HEART language?  What speaks to and warms your heart?  Create space for those things.  Today.  And maybe, just maybe...  you'll begin to dream in that language tonight.  

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