Reflections on the Spiritual Life

The Caprice Applequist Perspective

Caprice Applequist

Caprice Applequist

Caprice Applequist

Caprice Applequist

Caprice Applequist

Caprice Applequist

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Episode 31: The People Who Help Us Know God

My every day is consumed with learning Urdu. Truly. Every single day. I’ve employed eight different teachers over the last year, and they’ve all brought a little something different to the table. Meanwhile, I’ve brought messy Urdu, exhaustion, annoyance, and, occasionally, fun to my lessons. 

 

Maybe one day I’ll explain about the desert that’s been my spiritual life over the last couple years. For today, though, I’d like to share how a few of my different teachers have been illustrating Christ to me.

 

I cry a lot with one of my teachers. A few weeks ago, I was literally sobbing, but still trying to express myself in Urdu. She kept laughing at me and calling me (lovingly) pagl (crazy). She was like, “You can just talk in English.” And I replied that this was my lesson and I was going to use it. I have found with her someone who sees my struggles while offering understanding and compassion to me in ways that very few people ever have.

 

In her way, she illustrates Jesus to me, showing me how He lovingly listens. She reflects His compassion. I’m reminded by her that I can struggle with Jesus and He will be with me in it.

 

I have another teacher who is delighted when I ask grammatical questions. For him, there’s actual joy in explaining why certain verbs work the way they do. He celebrates when I can regularly pronounce certain difficult letters correctly. He notices improvements in my accent that I’m unaware of. 

 

From him, I keep being reminded that God is maybe not so focused on our imperfections. He’s so perfectly aware our levels, our abilities, that He celebrates the small improvements that we might not even be able to see ourselves. 

 

These are just two examples. When I reflect on my days, I’m amazed at the different people I get to interact with who teach me new things about who God is. 

 

I’ll be the first one to tell you that my Urdu is a bit of a mess. I misuse verbs all over the place. My tenses get really weird. I’d say that about 70% of the Urdu I speak I’m not actually sure about, and it’s likely riddled with mistakes. But mistakes mean that I’m learning–that I’m trying to speak. I’m attempting sentences that are new to me, and that delights my teachers. In the same way, my current spiritual life feels quite messy. I feel very aware of all my failings and shortcomings in following Christ well. But once again, mistakes mean that I'm learning.

 

So I continue to learn the language of following Jesus, thankful that He is aware of all of my mistakes and fears, but He also knows my level. And I believe that He is delighted by the trying, the failing, and the small improvements. I’m thankful that He sends me compassionate people to help me understand more about who He is. 

By Caprice Applequist

The people who know God well — the mystics, the hermits, those who risk everything to find God — always meet a lover, not a dictator. God is never found to be an abusive father or a tyrannical mother, but always a lover who is more than we dared hope for. How different than the “account manager” that most people seem to worship.

 

Richard Rohr

Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer 

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