I’ve been wrapping up a couple of audiobook narration jobs the past few days–both of them are Christmas books, and I really enjoyed working on them both. But they’ve both had their share of issues. One has had unexpected technical issues, but I think those are finally worked out. The other? Well, the other is more what you’d call user error.
The author has been listening to the production and emailing me any mistakes that I need to fix. Usually, no matter how hard I try, I still end up with a few mistakes that I missed even though I go over the whole thing twice. But this time in particular, there’s been a mistake almost every chapter. And almost all of them are mistakes in pronunciation.
“Don’t make fun of someone for mispronouncing a word,” I’ve heard it said. “That means they learned it through reading.”
It’s a comforting thought, but that still doesn’t make me any less embarrassed that I evidently don’t know how to say “nonchalant,” “dachshund,” or “proffered.” After all, I’m close to thirty years old! Why have I not picked up on these things yet?
I can never speak of pronunciation mistakes without my parents reminding me of a story from when I was five or six years old. I had three younger siblings at that point, one a baby, and the other two somewhere in between, probably ages one and three. I had noticed, in my older-sisterly-wisdom, that they didn’t always know how to say words correctly at that tender age, so I decided I would generously rectify the situation. How? By setting up a special “Pronunciation School” in the living room to meet with them each day and help them learn better.
The problem? I didn’t know how to pronounce the word “pronunciation” and so “Grace’s Pronunction School” has gone down in family history.
So yes, I’ve always done more reading than socializing, and that has wreaked havoc on my ability to say certain words correctly. I could take comfort in the fact that being a voracious reader gives me something that many people today don’t have. I could hide behind my pride in that and say that gives me a good reason for these mistakes.
But how then do I explain the fact that after a dozen rounds of editing my published books still contain typos and even outright errors? How do I explain my inability to find my way around without a GPS, and the fact that I get lost every time I try? How do I excuse my frequent failures in housekeeping, in the way I treat my husband and others, my lapses in my diet and my work schedule, and my hesitance to listen to God’s prompting?
I don’t think reading caused any of those.
In short, mistakes are abundant in every area of my life. As a perfectionist, it’s very easy to look at any one of these and melt into a puddle of self-condemnation. Why can’t I just be perfect, for goodness sakes? Is that too much to ask?
Actually, it is.
And I have to remind myself each and every time I make a mistake that it’s okay. That my value as a writer, narrator, wife, friend, person doesn’t revolve around my ability to keep from making mistakes. That it’s okay if I forget to do the laundry or I answer “enjoy your movie” with “you too” or I mispronounce “bravado.” None of those things are who I am.
Who I am is human. Imperfect. Made in the image of a perfect God, who allows every flaw and failure to be a reminder that we can’t do it all on our own. Because we need Him. We need Him to fix our lives, our hearts, ourselves, and to do it in His way and His time. And we need to learn patience when it doesn’t look the way we want.
Because one word I’ve always known how to pronounce is Grace. God’s grace for others–as well as myself.
In that, the mistakes don’t seem so dreadful after all.