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Posted by Colby Kinser on

I started with a new language study group a couple of weeks ago to continue studying Italian. The teacher is an Italian woman in Italy, one of my classmates is in Brazil, another in the US, and another I'm not quite sure.

The structure is pretty simple - we're reading a book together and then discussing it. No English is spoken. And I'm out of my depth.

To make matters worse, I read Italian way better than I understand it when it's spoken. So when it's my turn to read, I sound like I know what I'm doing. I can even read decently well without fully understanding the sentence. But then the discussion happens and I find myself frequently falling off the train and having trouble getting back on. By the time I get back on, I don't know where the train has been.

But the teacher thinks I'm following along better than I am because of my reading and because I don't keep saying, "Non ho capito!" (I don't understand!) Rather, I stare blankly ... I mean "politely" ... for others to speak.

So, after the first lesson, she put me in the "intermediate" class and some were put in the beginner's class. I feel like I'm somewhere in between, but no one offers that class. I told her as much in Whatsapp (which is great, because I can take a long time to formulate what I want to say), but it appears that she thinks I'm just being humble and self-deprecating and that things will go just fine.

I'm an impostor. And I'm afraid that I'll one day be exposed and embarrassed. "You don't belong with the rest of us at this level!"

I venture that many Christians feel the same way - that they are impostors, walking around in the intermediate class of Christianity but not really qualified to be there. We should be somewhere between beginner and intermediate, but no one is offering that class. No one seems to notice we're in the wrong place, but maybe one day ... one monumentally embarrassing day ... we'll get exposed as not being as Christlike as people seem to think we are. "You don't belong with the rest of us at this level!" So, we keep pretending. We continue on, day after day in the Christian life, as impostors under the cloud of one day being found out.

If we don't admit we're impostors, then we're being impostors about being impostors! 

There's this other idea called "transparency." It's way less stress. Impostors don't like real transparency. But the only way to not be an impostor is to be transparent. There's no other option.

So, here's my plan for my next class: I'm going to try. I'm not going to pretend. If I need to, I'll say, "Non ho capito," but not so much that I detract from others' progress. If I go to the beginner class, I'll feel a lot smarter and learn a lot less. No, I need to hang around those who are more advanced so that I can grow - and I will grow only by not pretending I'm more than I am.

Good advice for us Christians, too.

Tags: transparency, impostor