I was having a conversation with a friend of mine about relationships and I said to him, “You know, I really don’t like clingy friends”. But let me explain myself. My dislike of clingy friends is born from personal experience. A clingy friend will make it seem like it’s wrong to have other friends in your life. I am blessed with the ability to connect with various people and have long lasting friendships and I struggle when I have a person in my life who wants me to give them my undivided attention.
When I explained to my friend my predicament with clingy friends, his response was, “Bongs, maybe you should rather say, I love secure friends”. I smiled and looked at him, admiring his use of words. What he said resonated with me because of its profoundness and the fact that I had not looked at it that way before.
I love friends who live their lives to the fullest and who understand that even when we don’t talk every day, we still love and care deeply for each other. When my friend said, “rather say, I love secure friends”, I reflected on that, and there was an incredible shift in my mental and belief system. I am learning that language is not just about the words we use but it is a cornerstone of our whole life! Though reshaping how I see and engage with the world is a life long journey, I am happy with the progress I am making. There are some days I get it wrong, and some, right. But I have made a conscious decision that I will be intentional about how I shape my words daily.
In another personal example, I remember growing up in an isiZulu speaking church and reading the isiZulu bible. The way I perceived God then and how I perceive Him now is completely different. In the isiZulu church, I experienced God as this no nonsense, ready to punish, quickly angered character. Whereas in the English church, God is presented as a loving father, still no nonsense but always ready to forgive and who wants us to love the world like he does. What a difference! My relationship with God in my isiZulu church was always filled with fear and feeling inadequate. Whereas in my English church, it was filled with an understanding of God’s unconditional love.
Obviously, I am not saying that English churches are better than isiZulu churches because there are many English churches that still preach the ‘law message’ rather than the ‘grace message’. There are also many isiZulu churches who preach more of the ‘grace message’. I would advocate that it is perhaps a combination of different things, i.e. doctrine, revelation and language.
Scientifically there is also much to be said about this idea. I am reminded of a Ted Talk where the speaker beautifully detailed how language shapes our thinking-(https://www.ted.com/talks/lera_boroditsky_how_language_shapes_the_way_we_think). The speaker had conducted research on how language has deep effects on our cognitive and reasoning abilities.
She then posed three questions to the audience which I would love to also leave you with. Please ask yourself:
- Why do I think the way I do?
- Could I think differently?
- What thoughts do I wish to create?
I would love to hear your thoughts on this article, please share them at Bongeka@fresh.penthevision.co.za