While on a business trip, I had the opportunity to have dinner with family. My cousin Kelly is about seven years younger than I am, and I have always felt that we had a big brother/little sister (albeit from afar) relationship. Kelly was born deaf, but never let that stop her in her dreams. She is a graphics artist for a wheelchair company by day and an artist and digital marketing expert at night.
While at dinner, we filled several sheets of notepaper with scribbles, and passed them back and forth. My father and uncle were also at the table and most likely had flash backs to when we were younger.
It really did not occur to me, until I sat down to write tonight, that Kelly does not hear my voice…and in fact, she has never heard my voice. From my earliest memory of her being born (we are about seven years apart), I always seemed to find a way to talk with her, and she with me.
This started me thinking about how often we choose not to understand someone else, instead of trying to find a common language.
I will never know what it is like not to hear, and do not pretend to understand this aspect of my cousin’s life, but I can relate…just a little. Several years ago, my wife introduced me to mission with my first trip to Honduras.
Although I took Spanish in high school and college, I did not speak it well enough to do anything but ask for the bathroom, beer and water. I also did not understand it when spoken in rapid succession by the Hondurans. This can be very frustrating.
So, it was at this point, where I was exasperated with not being able to communicate, that I broke down to hand signals. Like a wild man, I flung descriptive gestures towards whom I was trying to talk to. Sometimes this worked, and most times it did not.
Finally, I realized that it was up to me to step out on the limb of faith…and just try to speak…regardless of how I felt, or what I thought the other person felt. I know that I got most of the words wrong, but at least I tried.
Today, I am more confident in what I am saying, and comfortable in the fact that I will still get words wrong…the other people don’t mind, they actually appreciate me trying.
I will admit that I have never been bashful in front of people, (my family will attest to this fact), but, you just have to believe that you will be okay and put yourself out there.
Finding a common language can be a challenging task, but if you fall back on the universal languages of love and laughter, I don’t see how you can go wrong.
Let’s all keep talking; you might find that it is your sign of Underlying Grace.