A Unique Dialect

My Mama started this funny little tradition a few years ago where she calls me on my birthday and says, “This many years ago right now Daddy and I were on our way to the hospital.” And then, she’ll tell me a cute and poignant and slightly embarrassing story about when I was born.

A couple of years ago, the story went like this:

“When you were born, you didn’t cry. I was so scared! I looked at your father and at the nurse and said, ‘Why isn’t my baby crying?!’ And then you screamed—and it was the most beautiful sound in the world! And you’ve never stopped!”

(I’ll pause so that you can laugh now. That really was funny. Especially if you know me. Kimae. Amber. Joell. Papa Bear.)

Ecclesiastes 3

 1 There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven:

 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,

 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,

 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,

 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
       a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
       a time to keep and a time to throw away,

 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
       a time to be silent and a time to speak,

 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
       a time for war and a time for peace.

(Above emphasis mine)

Over the last month or so, I’ve sensed God helping me find a better balance in some things in my life. And one of those things is this thing. This never knowing when to speak or when to be quiet. And really, I had come to a point where I was almost ready to withdraw because I would rather be silent than say the wrong thing or say too much of the right thing.

And then, I got an email from a friend.

“Thank you. Hearing what you have to say makes my day better.”

And I realized that withdrawing isn’t the answer. There is a time to be silent. But there’s a time to speak, too.

Let me challenge you with the same challenge that I’ve been given.

In college, I majored in English and minored in Spanish, but I also received a certification to Teach English as a Second Language (ESL). And what that meant for me was that I spent a lot of time studying not just the languages themselves, but also Language Acquisition and Linguistics. We talked about the building blocks of language—about dialects and accents.

Now, everybody that has heard me talk knows that I have an accent. I don’t just have an accent. I have a unique dialect. Everywhere I go it seems I pick up a word or phrase or pronunciation. For example, I pronounce “pajamas” differently than anyone in my family. And every time I use the word in front of my mother, she says, “Where did you get that pronunciation?” Truth is, I don’t know. I just picked it up somewhere. And ever since I’ve returned from Africa this time, for some unexplainable reason, I’ve begun calling public restrooms “washrooms” like they do overseas. (It just stuck in my head, I guess.) But the point I’m trying to make is that my voice—my accent—my dialect—are different than anyone else in the world. There is nobody, anywhere that sounds exactly like me.

(There’s a challenge coming, I promise! I’m getting there!)

Just as I have a unique dialect, there are people that will hear the truth or the Gospel a hundred times and never “get” it—until they hear it in my distinct dialect. There will be others that will hear my voice and find it annoying or unintelligible. But for the ones whose ears God has opened, my dialect will be the one that they can understand.

So, here’s the challenge:

Let God use your voice. God created you with a voice and a dialect and an accent just as unique as mine. There are people in your world that are waiting to hear the truth and God’s love and they’re waiting to hear it in your voice.

Romans 10

13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

About Sarah Salter


  1. La la la…. Mi mi mi… Fa sol la, mi re do…. <<~~~ Warming up so God can use my voice. 😛

    Great thoughts Sarah! Thank you for the reminder and the encouragement.

  2. The world is better because of your voice!

    Thanks for encouraging us all once again, reminding us that God created us for His purposes, with a voice unlike any other.

  3. Sarah Salter says:

    Dusty, you definitely have a unique voice! And God does use it in my life regularly! Thank you!

  4. Sarah Salter says:

    You’re welcome, Karin! And thank you for speaking into our lives. You are unique and you are beloved by God. And you are loved by us, as well. 🙂

  5. I love your discussion of dialect. I’m curious how you pronounce “pajamas.”

  6. There is thinking in the church publications world that people need to see a message 7 times for it to register. Hence frequent repetition of the same notice, etc. There is also thinking in those that design Worship services that different voices should be used for the same reason, because, exactly as you say, some people need to hear, can hear, WILL hear, through the voice or voices that reach them. I think someone with your credentials and experience, a smart woman of God, should speak. I also think you do an excellent job of editing yourself.

    I think blog comments are meant for discussion, and smart thinking, fun of course, most of all sharing. Frankly I’d be honored to have you comment.

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Wow, Robin! Thanks for that confirmation about people responding to voices! As for speaking, I do actually, occasionally speak. Mostly, though, it’s when I’m fundraising for missions. I think people get a little worried when they see my name in the bulletin because they know I’m going to both make them cry and ask them for money (which may, again, make them cry.) And thank you for the sweet compliments! Where God sends me, I’ll go. What God calls me to do, I’ll surely try to do! Thanks for coming by, Robin! You’re always a blessing!

  8. Dacia Bryan says:

    Amen, amen, amen! What a great word! I am so blessed by this today. Sometimes we can really get in a serious funk thinking God has so many other more anointed, more articulate, more righteous vessels to use in spreading His Good News. But He wants to use my particular dialect…and no only that but He’s shaping and reshaping my telling through each life experience He brings me through. Thanks for the sharing, Sarah!

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Thank you, Dacia! And can I tell you how it seriously blessed me the day that you contacted me (probably via facebook) and said, “Your blog has inspired me to start a blog.” Oh my gosh! I’m just a hack! I’m less than a novice! But reading your blog inspires me and I’m so grateful to God for your finding that outlet. My friends Kari & Anne & I REALLY enjoyed your Girls’ posts last week! Love ya, girl! 🙂

  10. Isn’t it crazy how when we think nobody is listening is when we can make the biggest difference.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Michael, I find that a little frightening. But yes, that’s often true.

  12. Knowing when to speak and when to be quiet is a huge one for me! I’m living and learning. Glad though that we each have a unique voice and carry the image and presence of God. Great post, Sarah! Thanks.

  13. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Jason. And really, this is a lifelong lesson. And it’s kinda like learning to walk… Occasionally, you’re going to fall and skin your knees. It’s just the nature of it. We just have to get up and keep toddling along because there are people whose lives depend on it.

  14. I like your perspective on this. I’ve never heard it described in this way.

    What a unique dialect, indeed! 🙂

  15. Sarah Salter says:

    Sandra, I grew up pronouncing them puh-jah-muhs. That’s how everybody here pronounces it. But somewhere I picked up puh-jeh-muhs. And that’s what I still call them. Except when Mama fusses at me. 🙂

  16. Sarah Salter says:

    Lainie, thanks for coming by! It’s always a blessing to have you! 🙂

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