Earlier this year, my then three year old daughter asked me why we were moving back to Ecuador. She loved living near Grandma in the states and simply could not understand why anyone would want to live any where in the world that did not have fruit snacks. Our conversation went something like this:”Well, honey, we are moving back to Ecuador because Mommy and Daddy believe that God has asked us to open an orphanage. There are many children who don’t have mommies and daddies, and we want to help them.”
“How are we going to help them, Mommy?”
“We are going to feed them, give them clothes, and take care of them.”
“I think we should feed them mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are the best. I’m going to feed ALL the babies mashed potatoes and lice.”
I’m sure she meant rice, but it came out all wrong. The thing is that I know what she meant in her sweet, little heart, and without missing a beat, we kept right on talking about those babies without mommies and daddies and how God calls us to love them.The point of the moment was not to make sure she understood the difference between lice and rice. No need to correct and risk making her feel humiliated. The beauty of the moment lay in building the foundations in her heart to understand that God calls us to love the orphan and the widow.
Then it hit me, how so many times, I try to communicate something to someone and it just comes out all wrong. Living between two cultures and two languages, I experience this often. No matter how hard I try to communicate well, I just mess it up sometimes.
I gotta tell you… I love it when I get it wrong, but instead of the opposite party pointing out my error, they hear my heart on the subject and we just keep right on going with the conversation. Never missing a beat. Unoffended. Unoffending. Pure, heart-to-heart communication.
Oswaldo and I are a bi-cultural couple. We couldn’t be more different. He’s a born and bred Latin soul. I’m a Dutch white girl raised deep in the Bible belt of the heartland. And believe me, we’ve had our share of misunderstandings. But some of the greatest advice we’ve ever received in our five years of marriage came from another cross-cultural, married couple who’d been together much longer than us. They told us that when your languages fail you, and you simply cannot understand where the other is coming from, stop listening to words and listen to the other’s heart.
Isn’t it so true? Sometimes our words fail us. I feel this way a lot when I’m praying. I really want to communicate the depth of my desire to God to have the orphanage open, to see orphans lives change, to witness transformation in the government that allows abandoned children to be adopted into forever families. Especially when we have to wait, like we’re doing right now. Waiting for permission to open, waiting for children to come, waiting for everything to be rightly in place for us to open the orphanage. But sometimes my words fall short, and it just feels like a one-sided, misunderstood conversation.
BUT GOD HEARS OUR HEARTS.
MORE THAN OUR WORDS. HE KNOWS US. HE CREATED THESE DREAMS IN US.
Oh Lord, we so want to open Tesoros Orphanage. We want to be your hands and feet to the orphans. We want to feed them mashed potatoes and lice.
THANK HEAVENS. GOD UNDERSTANDS AND HEARS OUR HEARTS. HE’S NOT WORRIED ABOUT US GETTING IT RIGHT. HE’S TEACHING US ABOUT HIS LOVE, HIS DREAMS, AND HIS PRECEPTS IN THE MOMENT.
1 Corinthians 2:9 (HCSB)
9 But as it is written: What eye did not see and ear did not hear,
and what never entered the human mind—
God prepared this for those who love Him.