One of the most difficult challenges we face as writers, speakers, and human beings is to say what we mean, to convey our message clearly and without any confusion or misunderstanding of our true intent. Rarely do we do this flawlessly, no matter how hard we try.

We state what seemed clear to us, only to have the other assume we meant something else entirely. These difficulties usually occur within our most intimate relationships. Each one attempts to be heard, rather than to listen. We find clear communication impossible, because we assume we know what the other meant, and thus, we are unable to listen or to hear them. Arguments erupt, circling around these conversational misunderstandings.

One problem is that within any message there are actually several: what you meant to say, what you actually said, what the other person heard you say, and what he or she thought you meant. Often none of those are the same.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. - George Bernard Shaw

We thought we communicated, but we didn’t. We assumed we said one thing, while they heard another. The difficulty of saying what we mean and conveying it in a way that is clearly heard and understood by the listener occurs only with painstaking effort in many cases.

Why? Because human communication is broken, shot through with our human frailty and sin. Unfortunately, this universal human challenge can’t be solved or fixed in a blogpost.

What I offer today instead is solace.

There is One who understands exactly what you mean, even when you articulate it as best you can, yet are still misunderstood. The Lord knows, even if you can’t clearly convey what’s in your heart and mind. He knows your thoughts before you even utter them.

Psalm 139:1-4 tells us:

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.

This reassuring truth is the undergirding that holds us together. The Lord knows our thoughts and intentions even before we speak. As we’re still sorting through our emotions, he knows what we think and feel before we ourselves have figured that out. These truths are what get us through the misunderstandings.

We can bring to the Lord our emotional turmoil and frustration over failed communication, our bad choice of words, and our inability to erase words said in haste, anger, or hurt. We can ask him for the ability to listen to the other, and to respond affirmatively.

When we’ve done everything within our power to make things right—even if we’ve messed things up with more miscommunication—we can still ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and his healing of hurts to ourselves and to others.

If an apology is in order, we can give it. If space is requested, we can grant it.

And then, we must entrust all of it and the other person into God’s hands, for only the Lord can do the healing work. Only the Lord can heal hearts and minds. We can’t.

We pray for our own healing. We pray for the healing of the other.

But we must place all of it into God’s hands, for he alone can address hearts and minds. Our faith grows when we believe that God is able, and we leave it with him. Can we step out in faith and give it to him, rather than mulling and rehashing?

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV) says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s trust him, rather than our own ways and insight, acknowledging his wisdom and oversight of human souls. He will make straight the kinks. One day, all will be clear.

WW1 brought the horrors of an entire world at war and a global pandemic that killed more young adults than the war that spread it. The Shadows Come details the impact on one small tight-knit community. You can help bring to life this story of love, loss, and faith, the sequel to No Longer Alone. YOU can be a part of the process! Come and see what’s up at Patreon.