I’ve become fascinated with a book I recently bought. It’s titled Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World. How I’ve enjoyed reading through this book and dreaming of why a culture would need a word for “the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest.” (The word is “poronkusema.” I have no idea how far that actually is.) While all of the words are fascinating, one word feels particularly special as we begin the Advent season. The word is “naz.” It comes from Urdu, the national language of Pakistan. It roughly translates to: “The pride and assurance that comes from knowing you are loved unconditionally.”
Can I make a confession? I don’t always really feel “naz,” even though I know God loves me unconditionally. I believe it, I can intellectualize it, but there are many days I’m not bursting with feelings of pride and assurance. After all: I can be quite the jerk now and then. Maybe you can relate? I think Advent can help.
Advent is about preparing our hearts for the surprising work of God in the world, which we celebrate on Christmas. However, that work wasn’t just a Christmas miracle; God continues to surprise us every day. What if one of the most surprising works of God is that “naz” really is possible, because God truly does love us – flaws, imperfections, mood-swings and all? Maybe the work of this Advent season is beginning to believe that truth, despite all the personal evidence we can muster about why we’re not worthy. Then, over time, we can make room for “naz” to grow in our hearts.