“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139: 13-14
When our daughter, Rachel, was little I sang a song to her I learned in an early education class at seminary meant to reinforce the fact that we were all uniquely and specially made by God. It went like this, “Search all the world over, there’s no one like me, no one like me, no one like me … search all the world over there’s no one like me, there’s no one exactly like me. Some people are short and some people are tall, God made them all, but there’s no one exactly like me.”
As I held my precious newborn baby girl I rocked her and sang this little song to her believing I was instilling in her newly developing mind how special she was. I sang it to her until she finally was able to talk to me at about two years of age. One day I started singing it and she frowned at me and held up her hand to my face and said, “I don’t yike that song!” I said, “Why don’t you like it Rachel?” Much to my distress she replied, “Cause no one likes me!” My face froze with horror as I replayed the years I had imprinted the words of this sweet little Christian preschool song into her tender psyche … but each time she heard the wrong meaning. I figured I had ruined my daughter and imagined years of counseling for her future.
What had I done? I picked her up and tried desperately to explain what these words actually were saying and how she had misunderstood the meaning. I told her that she was fearfully and wonderfully made by God. As I looked at her puzzled, unforgiving face, I said, “Well, not fearfully, like monsters…” Her eyes teared up. I tried again… “ No, no there aren’t monsters, but you are special and there are no monsters… “I’m saying, there’s no one like me, well, like you, not no one likes me or you…” No response… “Bill, you need to come talk to Rachel…” and that’s how it usually went.
Much to my delight as Rachel grew older she showed no signs of having anything less than a stellar self-Image. Gratefully and unexplainably, confidence has never been a problem for Rachel. Sometimes we aren’t communicating at all what we think we are communicating to our children. Children, thankfully, are resilient. I think God took that into account when He gave us these little guys to raise. I have to believe my heart and love went much further than the misunderstanding of that well-meaning but deeply confusing little song. That song is forever in the delete pile in our family.
Misunderstandings are at the center of our interpersonal conflicts. It is a constant battle to say what we mean and to mean what we say. It is also an ongoing effort to explain what we mean and make sure the other people in our lives understand our meaning. Hurt, conflict and even broken relationships are the result of misunderstanding. It is up to each one of us to do everything we can to communicate clearly. All of us come from varied backgrounds and experiences, which sets us on unleveled playing ground. It is rarely easy.
I have to remind myself of this unlevel field, continually, as I usually begin my sentences in the middle of my thoughts and then abandon that thought as I leapfrog to the next. I readily admit, I am hard to follow. I guess recognizing our struggle is a good place to start in an attempt to communicate clearly and more effectively. I do know my heart, and it is a heart that wants people to know I care.
Regardless of our particular bent, we each need to remember how easily bruised most people are by careless words. Make it a habit of saying words that build up instead of tearing down. Search all the world over and there is no one like me or like you! We are uniquely designed by a God who knows and loves us each as specifically as He made us.” Believe it when I tell you … He does like you!
Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”