Have you ever had something get lost in translation?

Last week I received a traditional Japanese cake from our teachers visiting from Yokohama. None of the packaging was in English so I asked my visiting Japanese colleague what this cake was like. She said “healthy cake, no sugar!” Excited by what I thought must have been a breakthrough discovery in the cake industry, I went about eating this amazingly sweet, yet healthy cake.

After working my way through the entire cake (on my own) I started getting the shakes, the likes of which I haven’t experienced since eating a bag full of red frogs in one sitting when I was 12 years old.

Without wanting to offend our guests, I just had to know, so I subtly asked one parting question as they boarded the bus: “Are you sure there was no sugar in that cake?” Her response was “No, not healthy cake, all sugar!” We laughed about the miscommunication, while I was calculating in my head how far I would have to run to work off my sugary mistake.

Sometimes in life, we can hurt people with our words, even if our intentions are pure. Something gets lost in translation and we end up getting into an argument or carrying an offence around with us for a long time.

James 1:19-20 says: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

I could have become angry that she didn’t explain the ingredients of the cake clearly enough to me, or I could have listened more carefully to what she was trying to say whilst giving me a gift. When we spend time listening to someone and trying to understand them, we are much less likely to get angry if things don’t go our way.

So I guess I will be jogging on the weekend, but I will try to return the favour when I travel to Japan later this Term with some of our students and give our Japanese hosts the equally healthy gift of ‘sugarless Tim Tams!’