The Stable of Inner Self

Hope Sown in the Heart

Jihyun Kim

I have mixed feelings reflecting on my experience of learning the Chinese Mandarin language. This includes happiness, sadness and confusion. By the end of this semester, I will be finishing up with full-time language studies. This makes me feel sad because I would not be seeing my classmates again, and I know I will miss them. I also feel very happy because at the end of each class day, I learned something new and practical.

At times I felt challenged by my teacher's teaching style. My teacher is seemingly very passionate about teaching. His teaching method is fast, and sometimes I feel like I need to catch my breath. When he asks some questions, he doesn't wait for the answer. While I think about the answer and mumble a response, he immediately gives the answer. I feel like he pushes his students too much. He often says that it is so simple and easy. Perhaps he wants us to speak like native Chinese speakers, but of course as a foreigner learning a new language it is not that easy. We students often remind him to speak slowly but this doesn't seem to work at all. I am unhappy with how he handles our class, because I find him to be very strict. I felt upset and frustrated.

I sensed that other students are seemingly okay with his teaching style but why do I feel uncomfortable and angry with the way he handles our class? What is wrong with me? I felt confused. I reflected on my reactions to my teacher's teaching style. I realized that I am seeing myself in him. Like my teacher, I ignored those who don't understand. I also ignored those who ask questions. I am not sensitive to other people who are struggling to find an answer, because I already have one. I realized that I find it seriously difficult to wait because I lack patience. With these realizations, I pray that I may learn how to listen as Jesus would want me to.

Jesus came into this would as a human being in a stable. In a certain sense my impatience, ignorance, anger and shame can be the very place where Jesus is going to come. I pray that I may not just avoid or conceal my weaknesses. This Christmas I am open to taking off the mask that covers my weakness. To talk face to face with Jesus because I believe Jesus has come to free me from my weaknesses so that I will live fully in His light.

At this moment, I feel Jesus is waiting for me. Jesus has sent my language teacher so I can see myself in him and that is a blessing for me. The time has come for me to liberate myself. I am grateful that this Christmas, I have understood and experienced the promise of Christ's light and the hope He has sown in my heart.

Originally from Korea, Columban lay missionary Jihyun Kim lives and works in China.