“Hey girl, stop what you’re doing!” (Led Zeppelin, “Communication Breakdown”)
On Monday, I had my ordination interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry. I was justifiably nervous, hopeful that I would adequately communicate my theological understandings as well as my effectiveness in ministry. But one of the points I made in one of my answers to the questions posed in the Book of Discipline has stuck with me all week – how all language is metaphor.
Specifically, I was talking about my understanding of God. I often say that it’s like holding the ocean in a Dixie cup – it’s true as far as it goes, but it’s certainly not the whole of it. Language is just an agreed upon system of squiggles and grunts that we take to mean other things. No wonder we misunderstand each other so often!
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12, NRSV)
The next day after this life-changing interview, I was plunged headfirst back into the everyday challenges and joys of ministry. And through the circuits of e-mails, phone calls, messages, texts, and face-to-face conversations, I got to thinking about how often these communications break down. Our words, as well-crafted and well-meaning as they may be, often don’t do our thoughts or feelings justice.
So I’m looking forward to the realization of the Kingdom of God. I have a feeling that not only will I know God fully, but I will have the joys of knowing my brothers and sisters fully, even as I will be fully known. In the mean time, I feel God calling me to stop what I’m doing, take time to sort out the messages, and struggle to find the ways that communicate more clearly.
After all, we’re called to be witnesses to the good news of God in Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit. And that takes communication.