Have you ever been a part of a communication misunderstanding?
Have you ever said something realizing later that you, in fact, were perceived to have said something entirely different?
Several years ago I spent a couple months in Kenya with a team of Convoy of Hope interns. During our stay in the country, our team spent some time working with Nationals in Northern Kenya near the border of Ethiopia. I remember one evening in particular, a group of people from both cultures sat down after dinner and asked about each other’s culture. at one point, one of the Kenyans asked us what we liked to do for fun in America, after several different answers, one of my team members answered,
“I just like to chill with my friends.”
The Kenyans had a funny look on their face.
“Umm, what does it mean to chill?” asked one of our new friends.
After explaining that it simply meant to spend time with each other, the group began to laugh. Apparently, in their culture, “to chill” means to practice virginity. They were confused as to why our team was always talking about “chilling.”
As a team built of all christian girls, there was no doubt that we actually were “chilling” by Kenyan definition. However, what we thought we were communicating was in fact not what was being received.
Today I found myself thinking about this instance. How often does this happen and clarification does not occur? As a senior public relations major, I have taken my fair share of communications classes over the last couple years. One of the first things I was introduced to in class was a diagram featuring a sender and a receiver.
(yes I drew this… you’re welcome)
In this picture you see that the sender encoding and sending their message to the receiver who then receives and decodes the message sent by the sender (Riveting, I know… ) In a perfect world, what you send is what they receive. In reality, what you say is not always what is heard.
(this is also an original drawing, in case you couldn’t tell…)
In real life communication noise enters the scene. Noise is classified as anything that is standing in the way of us hearing or understanding the message in the way the sender intended. Noise can be anything from culture to ADD, from a bad memory to a bad lisp. Noise can be anything.
During my commute to class this afternoon, I found myself thinking about my schedule, stressing over little things that, in the grand scheme of things, really don’t matter one iota. During that moment, I really felt like I heard God say, “Worry is your noise. Don’t worry, I got ya.”
God is speaking to me. He has the power to speak into my life, to totally transform who I am am; to pick me up and point me in an entirely different direction. He is all powerful, all loving, all knowing. Why in the world am I not listening and heeding to His every word?
Up until that moment, I thought I was.
Worry is my current noise. I have been getting so fixated on the little things, what I see and what I hear, I filter through the eyes and ears of worry.
Yuck. I don’t want this! Tonight, I am thanking Jesus for revealing to me things that are keeping me from hearing His voice accurately. I find myself praying that He would remove those things from my life, ultimately teaching me what it looks like to fully trust in Him and to walk with Him in all that I do.
May He take captive my heart and my mind.