October 2, 2015

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Call on God when you don’t connect with others

Patti LambLately, I’ve been questioning my ability to communicate adequately.

Unfortunately, I can cite several recent examples.

Last weekend, my son Henry, 10, and my daughter Margaret, 7, eagerly invited me to join in their video game fun. They gave me a controller, along with a brief set of instructions, and the game began. They kept repeating instructions, which I couldn’t comply with quickly enough. It went something like this:

Henry: “Hit ‘A,’ and then jump, mom.”

Margaret: “No! A is the red button on the left.”

Henry: “Forget ‘A,’ and just move forward and select a tool.”

Margaret: “Here mom, just give me your controller, and I’ll do it for you.”

Eventually, the kids requested that I “drop out” of the game. They grew tired of my clumsiness with the controller, and my inability to catch on to how the game worked. I remember saying to them, “Sorry, kids, but it’s like you’re speaking another language.”

The next morning, I experienced another communication glitch—this time with my husband. He graciously agreed to repaint my daughter’s room, which was a big undertaking. A few hours into painting, I came up to check on his progress. I walked into the room and sighed, “Oh, no! The color is too light!”

What he heard was, “This looks terrible.”

In no way did I intend to comment on his paint job. My husband is a fantastic painter. The issue was that I had picked the wrong color. And I failed to communicate that properly. (Sorry, dear.)

That evening in the checkout lane of the grocery store, I noticed that an item rang up higher than the price at which it was advertised. (I had come specifically to purchase that product.) I explained this to the cashier, and suggested that there might be a glitch in the computer system. I reached into my purse and pulled out the ad to show her.

The cashier grew frustrated and said, “Fine.” She begrudgingly typed in an override to give me the sale price as it was advertised. In that particular case, there was literally a language barrier because the woman was still mastering the English language, which is not an easy one to grasp.

It was then that I remembered a passage from God Calling, one of my favorite devotionals, which stated a real nugget of wisdom: “God is the heart’s great interpreter.”

Communication can easily become broken for the silliest, or most unintentional, reasons. So we must summon God, the heart’s great interpreter, to help us bridge the gap and understand one another.

A passage from God Calling stated this: “Never judge. The heart of man is so delicate, so complex, only its Maker can know it. Each heart is so different, actuated by different motives, controlled by different circumstances, influenced by different sufferings.”

God made us, and he can read our hearts. His love transcends language.

In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit descends on the people, they each hear the Spirit in their own native tongues, despite the fact that they were vastly different and spoke many diverse languages.

My recent string of miscommunications has reminded me of the importance of calling on God, the divine interpreter, when I don’t properly connect with someone else.

I’ve learned to say this quick prayer: “Come Holy Spirit. We’re at a ‘disconnect.’ Please enlighten our minds and hearts, so that we can be at peace with each other. We ask this in your name with gratitude for all of our blessings. Amen.”

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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