What We Learn When Life Leaves Us Speechless

What We Learn When Life Leaves Us Speechless October 14, 2013

In lastweek’s column, I was musing about those moments when you find yourselfspeechless, not so much because you lack something to say but rather becausewords can’t quite capture it. Times like the birth of a baby, an encounter withGod, or a grief too deep to articulate—those situations when the depth of ourfeelings quickly surpasses the height of our ability to communicate.

We shouldcertainly thank the Lord for the ability to speak, even though it might belimited sometimes. God has graciously given human beings the capacity forlanguage, and we are foolish to neglect it. But I think we are even morefoolish to suppose that mere verbalizing equals communicating.

In ourrelationships with other people, I think we would do really well not toassume that simply saying our piece or listening to theirs means that we’veactually reached a mutual understanding. Deep person-to-person communicationoften goes beyond mere words. This is partly because human beings are more thanmere minds that think with mouths that talk. We have a body that directlyencounters our world and a soul that filters and sorts and shapes and is shapedby what we experience. And sometimes our experiences go beyond what we are ableto put into words.

I thinkGod does that to us on purpose. Why? To remind us that we aren’t God, first ofall. Only He has infinite capacity for Self-expression. That’s probably why,when God finally expressed Himself as a human being, the Apostle John calledHim simply “The Word.”

Butthere’s probably another reason. Perhaps God gives us those speechless momentsjust so we’ll remember that real communication goes way beyond words andphrases and grammar and syntax. Real communication happens heart to heart, soulto soul, person to person. In some ways it’s beyond logic and deeper thanemotion. When you experience it—when you really connect with someone, I’vealways found that it’s… well, it’s…