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Lost in Translation

Mar 25, 2024

This post is by Jen Shultz.


When I was first let loose on this world at a meager 18 years old, I thought I knew so much. Fast forward almost 30 years and I actually chuckled to myself when writing that last sentence. While I had traveled more than most people I knew and had been exposed to some of life’s hard truths, what I actually knew about life was more of a sentence or two

These days, I am the proud owner of at least a few chapters of knowledge. Even still, things will catch me unaware. Language is one of those things. I am solidly unilingual. I know snippets of other languages. I admire those who have the aptitude to be fluent in multiple languages because I find myself searching for words to aptly describe what I am feeling and sometimes there just aren’t any. I’ve noted when speaking with someone who is translating, I hear how something doesn’t effectively translate. There is no word for every word from one language to the next because cultures capture importance in different areas. There is an old adage about the difficulty of words failing to have the same meaning or effectiveness when translated into another language- lost in translation.

As I have grown in the way I study the Bible, I have found such fullness in the words it contains. I have also stumbled into many a confusing verse or chapter. To help as I muddle my way through, I have found a few outlets that never fail to help me understand more deeply. The want, the “WHAT?”, and the who have been those outlets. 

The want seems pretty self explanatory. I have to want to dig in and not get frustrated that I am not getting out of a reading what others are. This was especially difficult for me as I first started really working to deepen my understanding. I had a serious case of imposter syndrome in listening to the deep musings of those I studied with. Even so, I showed up daily to read my Bible and checked it off my list of to-dos. 

Don’t get me wrong, friend, a quick read is better than none at all, but it doesn’t leave much room for those verses that make you scratch your head and lean in a little to see if that might make things clearer. This is where the “WHAT?” shows up. When we have those moments are we just shrugging them off or digging deeper? There have been plenty of days that I read my daily readings while sitting in a doctor’s office or the school pick up line. There have been days that even in the comfort of my own home, my time feels limited. And maybe it is just me, but those are always the days that the “WHAT?” creeps into my study. When I have the time, looking into other translations to see if one of those clicks for me is so helpful. Reading a commentary or even looking at a concordance helps resolve the “WHAT?” because there are some things that truly just get lost in translation and time. 

Even after looking at those different translations (KJV, ESV, NLT and English to Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic), I have been stumped on what it is that I should be gleaning from a verse. This is where the “who” is helpful and not in an English rock band way. We are talking about those in your life you share these study times and questions with. Who do you look to when you have questions? Are there people in your life that give you different views of a verse than you would have seen on your own? Are there people in your life who you think, “as I continue to grow in my faith I hope to have that ability to apply Biblical lessons like that” kind of people? The impact that relationship has is valuable and worthy of seeking out.

The want, the WHAT?, and the who have the opportunity to be truly transformative in your life, friend. These seemingly small things allow for significant growth and deeper understanding. Being less lost in translation… that is a goal worth setting. 


Jen is a small town, Oklahoma girl married to a superhero. Together, they are raising a family on second chances, shiplap, and a shoestring. She is a firm believer in grace, organization, and efficiency. She finds great satisfaction in taking broken items and giving them new life, likely because that is exactly what God did for her. She over uses the word shine, exclamation points, and emojis. Jen calls her children her greatest accomplishments. A natural born encourager and armchair warrior, she is learning to redefine her mission field and make the most of each day she is given. She has recently been promoted from breast cancer warrior to breast cancer survivor. She’s chronically ill and chronically positive- not necessarily in that order. She is learning to practice perseverance over perfection and longs for the day she gets to see her grandparents and Jesus’ face. Until then, she is just looking for Grace in the Grind.

Photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash


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