A friend told me that whales can communicate with one another over distances of up to 1000 miles. When I asked him what the whales communicated over such a great distance, he answered, "Scientists aren't really sure, but they think the whales are saying, Can you hear me NOW?"
I love words. I love to read, and I love to write. I love to listen to what others have to say, and, yes, I love to talk (It's a Stricklin thing.) But communication is about more than simply reading or writing or hearing or speaking words. It is a two-way process where at least two of those things happen simultaneously. Communication is an interaction between a writer and a reader, between a speaker and a listener, between a performer and an audience.
Communication is tricky business. A person can say one thing, but actually communicate something very different from what he intends. A person can hear one thing, but actually understand something very different from what the speaker said.
I have a friend who frequently tells me that I have a knack for understanding words and for putting into words what I or others are trying to express. And yet often, when my friend tries to communicate something meaningful to me, if I respond with, "Oh, so you are saying such-and-such...," he replies, "No! You are completely misunderstanding me!"
Communication is tricky business.
In Sunday school this past week, Deon began the class by asking us, "What things do you get passionate about? How do you generally express that passion?"
At home Sunday afternoon, I commented that a better question might be to ask other people, especially those who know us well, "What things do you think I am passionate about?" Why? Because like Walter Mitty, we can perceive ourselves to be one way, living in strange little worlds inside our heads, while communicating something very different to the people around us through our words, our actions, and our lives.
I know what I think I am passionate about, but have I effectively communicated that passion to those who know me best? That is the question that Deon's Sunday school lesson triggered in my mind!
The kids were gathered in the kitchen, helping me get Sunday lunch on the table. I had to ask, although, honestly, I was afraid of the answer. I was afraid because the things I am most passionate about - the things I think I am most passionate about - they are so important to me that it would grieve me to learn that I had not communicated that passion effectively, especially to my family. "What things do you think I am passionate about?"
"You, Mom? That's easy. You are passionate about Jesus..."
"...and about the Bible..."
"...and you are passionate about your kids..."
"...and you are passionate about writing..."
Yes! Yes, yes, yes!
I don't always communicate clearly to others. I don't always understand what others are trying to communicate to me, either. Thankfully, concerning the things about which I feel most passionately, the message seems to have come through loud and clear.
What about you, Dear Reader? What things are you passionate about? If you asked those who know you best, what things would they say you were passionate about?
3 months ago