Since you’re reading this blog, it’s safe to assume that you have some proficiency in English such that we have some basic common ground with our communication. Because we have some basic commonality with communication, sometimes we make assumptions that the other person understands what we’re saying. This can be true when we order fast food, do some regular daily activities and pleasantries. However, I’ve had some interesting experiences lately with “niche languages.”
In the recent year, I’ve attempted to have some conversations with English as an assumed base language for conversation but the communication was massively frustrating for me. For example, I’ve attempted to have some discussions with accountants, educators, physical trainers, chefs, etc and the communication has been very frustrating to me because of the niche language and vocabularies those respective groups have.
I know that this “niche language” reality holds true also for various religions, including Christianity. As a person who really enjoys the Bible, biblical languages, cultures and history, it can be really easy for me to fall into the language rabbit trail that can be less than inclusive for everyday and regular people. I could use big words like: transubstantiation, propitiation, inculcate, righteousness, eucharist, soteriology, exegesis, pneumatology and armenianism, to name a few. When I used these kinds of words in the past, I was trying to feel important, educated and superior. At the same time, most of the time the people with whom I was chatting had glazed-over looks on their faces when I did my “important and educated language niche.”
If I’m honest with myself, I was speaking from a premise of internal insecurity and I didn’t really help anyone conversing with me to be secure in themselves. Indeed, most often people could easily feel insecure around me and less than. Maybe they thought I was smart, but I didn’t help them feel important or valued.
And this is my point: let’s determine to speak the language of love, full stop. If we’re really smart, if we have niche language proficiency with our job or hobby (medical industry, accounting, political contexts, sports, etc.) and if we are talking with someone who doesn’t know our niche language, let’s be determined to be kind and loving. Indeed, as followers of Jesus, our highest priority is to steadily choose love.
For myself, I know that I want to choose love, but sometimes my communication doesn’t always align with love as my essential priority. I bring this to your attention because niche languages can often be exclusive and cause someone to not experience love through our communication. Furthermore, if we shame someone for not understanding our niche language, that’s even more unloving.
Every bit as much as we want to be loved and included, let’s endeavor to be inclusive with our language, communicating grace, patience and warmth from our hearts that can overflow with Jesus’ love!