Now, I am an English girl (probably about as English as they come in all honesty!)
Living in Scotland.
I’ve lived here for 5 years and 3 months. And I love Scotland. I really do.
It’s had a big impact on me. Lots of my closest friends are now Scottish. My boss is Scottish. Most of my young people are Scottish. Some of the best people I know are Scottish! I’ve danced a few ceilidhs. Drunk some iron bru. Become addicted to Tunnocks caramel wafers. Learnt to drive in the snow. Had my accent laughed at… A lot.
But yesterday, as I was emailing my Glaswegian boss back and forth, I realised that even after 5 years, I still haven’t quite got the Scottish ‘patter’ down.
It was that word use that made me realise it. Because when you’re emailing people you know well, you write the way you speak. You use the words that are comfortable to you. And I’m normally pretty-darn-good at my Scottish-language-interpretation… But I honestly had no idea what that word meant! Haha… (‘Humourous chat or language’, apparently! For me? Honestly, I thought ‘patter’ was the sound of rain… As in, ‘pitter-patter’…)
Although, I’ve found a fair few of these examples over the last 5 years of my living-in-Scotland-life.
Like, what I call a sandwich? That’s a piece. Where I used to say ‘Yes’? I now say ‘Aye‘. When I catch up with a friend over coffee, we don’t talk, we blether. I’m not cold, I’m baltic. I’m not small, I’m wee. If I look nice, I’m bonnie. As in, ‘You’re a bonnie, wee, lass’. If I do something stupid, I’m a daftie. A belter is a good thing. Something being boak is a bad thing. Really bad. We don’t have Highland cows, we have Highland coos. They’re different. ‘Ah dinnae ken‘ means ‘I don’t know’ (please don’t ask me why). I no longer feel tired, I’m pure done in. I’m not crazy, I’m aff mi heid. You get my drift…
It works both ways though. I think the debate of which is the posh way to pronouce the word ‘scone’ will follow me forever (even though it HAS an ‘e’ on the end!!!) When I was staying with an America couple this summer, the phrase, ‘I’m just going to pop to the shops’ caused them considerable amounts of amusement. I have a very humorous story about an English friend who misinterpreted the words ‘pants’ in an American airport, much to everyone’s embarrassment.
Because words sometimes mean different things to different people.
Even when we speak the same language.
And it gets even more difficult when we don’t.
Communication can be a daunting thing indeed.
But I was reading an article in a psychology journal recently that had a phrase that I loved.
Using our separateness to create a connection.
I love that. As a Christian, I really love that.
Because I think that what we can sometimes see as challenges in our communication with others, can actually be the beautiful things that invite us into the real conversation. Into the dialogue. Into the truly-getting-to-know-someone. We can be interested. We can be honest. We can love bigger than words. We can laugh and learn how to not-take-ourselves-too-seriously. What appears to be our separateness, can actually be the thing that causes a connection. Because we start to focus on what is bigger. What is more real. What is more important.
I mean, that’s what God did with us. When we were separate. And when it felt like we were talking two completely different and incompatible languages. Because He was calling out to us with a message of who He was. That He was love. And forgiveness. And hope. And new life. He was telling us that His ways were best. That He could be trusted. He was pursuing us. But we were talking back with our rejection and our condemnation and our pride. That voice inside of us that said that we knew best and better than God ever could. Our voice that emphasised all the reasons for our separation. Until He caused the connection. Until Jesus clothed Himself in flesh and the Light of the world walked and dwelt amongst us. Until He became the beautiful thing that invited us into the real conversation. Into the dialogue. Into the truly-getting-to-know-God. He was interested. He was honest. He loved so much bigger than words. He taught us how to laugh with real joy. And His life and death and resurrection overcame what appeared to be our insurmountable separateness. Because He wanted a connection with us that was stronger than our rebellion and stronger than our sin and stronger than our death. So He turned it all around so that in His forgiveness, what should have destroyed us, actually pushed us to the grace of God and into His arms. He rescued us and called us and changed us with what was bigger. What is more real. What is most important.
And where we were separate, now we are connected.
Now we can communicate.
Now we can keep the conversation going.
With God. With others. In community. In family.
Because I’m not aff mi heid… This is just the truth. It’s what God loves to do.
Oh, and I ask for the grace of my Scottish friends… Thanks for the language education these last years! I love you all!