EXPECTING TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Sometimes our troubles in communication involve expectations we have adopted, usually unconsciously. “We expect to be understood by other Christians and it comes as a shock to realize that they do not understand” writes Julie Gorman, teacher at Fuller Seminary. We expect to be understood, period, and are shocked when we aren’t. If not shocked, at least convinced it’s the other party’s fault – things were certainly clear when I spoke them.
But Christians should never be shocked to be misunderstood, whether by those who share our faith or those who do not. Misunderstanding occurs because of two realities, both basic to the Christian understanding of creation, that as creatures we are both fallen and finite. Being fallen means our minds are never fully dependable; and our autonomous hearts are always attracted to whatever ideas seems to make us the center of the universe, even though it sets us adrift to be…lost in the cosmos. If anything, we should be shocked when someone hears us correctly. But even if we were not fallen we would remain finite. Even if all we are and do weren’t so badly broken we would still be severely limited. Even at the best of times we can never comprehend everything at once, but only grasp bits and pieces, parts and partially at that, which means we can never fully, exhaustively understand anything.
Being both fallen and finite, it makes more sense to expect misunderstanding, to see clear communication as a grace, a gift as precious as it is unexpected.
Critique: 2011 Issue 2 “Hindrances to Communication” by Denis Haack, pg. 6-7.