How Spanish Class Taught Me About Finding God in All Things

empty classroomThis summer, I am finally learning to speak Spanish. After a few years of short-lived attempts to learn the language, numerous methods tried, and several immersion opportunities, at long last I sense my skills shifting. What has made the difference for me this summer has been method; instead of memorizations, conjugations, and vocabulary lists, this technique centers on the principle of inductive learning. Here the student gradually builds new knowledge into previously understood concepts.

As opposed to the active effort and exertion of methods past, this Spanish course often makes me feel as if I can simply show up, pay attention, and be learned upon. Of course, with any skill, there is a point at which memorization becomes inevitable and studying necessary. However, I am learning there are moments for striving and active study, and there are moments for resting, for absorbing, for processing gradually, for trusting what has already been learned—and that God initiates and participates in both the striving and the resting.

In this summer’s language study, I’m noticing shifts in my spiritual life as well. I find myself living in the tension between striving and resting, between initiating work and letting God work on me. I feel called to a deeper trust of what I already know to be true.

Experiencing God in this Spanish course has helped me live out the Ignatian theme of finding God in all things. The delight in learning the smallest word, the newness of phrases on the tongue, the tension between striving to know and already knowing, the gentle invitation to try again when I need to, the promise of a new way to communicate—these are ways I am being invited into a deeper experience of God.

God speaks many languages. Which one are you learning this summer?

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Elizabeth Eiland Figueroa
Elizabeth Eiland Figueroa is a clinical social worker in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Boston College, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and served in Seattle at a community mental health agency. Inspired by her experience as a JV, she moved to St. Louis to pursue a Master’s in Social Work and studied the integration of spirituality and psychotherapy. She continues to marvel at God’s movements in her life.


  1. Thank you for sharing your experience learning Spanish, Elizabeth. I have been playing/ studying guitar for many years. Recently I have been able to learn new songs much more easily by leaning on my God-given ability and love of breaking down to the beauty of the basics. Always a beginner in that respect.


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