“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
As a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) by trade, I feel that communication is the most integral aspect of how we function as human beings. From the power of communication flows the ability to build relationships, perform jobs, satisfy needs, and express ideas. With a love for communication always in mind, my heart absolutely swelled when I first met Alexa.
Alexa rounded the corner of the preschool building at the Amigos Academy going 100 MPH. Although she did not appear to know where she was headed, she knew she was going there fast. Her desperate teacher called out from behind, pleading with her to slow down and wait. Alexa let out a loud shriek combined with unintelligible gibberish of a few vowel sounds before reluctantly rejoining her class. I was immediately intrigued.
After talking to the preschool teacher, I learned that 3-year-old Alexa did not use any words to communicate. To express her wants and needs, Alexa usually pointed or used the familiar shriek-gibberish method. At times, she would become so frustrated with not being understood that she would cry, throw tantrums, or even bite. Without the ability to effectively communicate, there existed a barrier between Alexa and others that appeared hopeless to overcome.
Alexa is not alone in her desire to be understood. In our sin, we all experience the pain of isolation – both from God and from others. Our hearts yearn for affection and acceptance. We long to be heard, to be understood, and to be loved. Despite our best efforts, we find ourselves facing the same frustrations. Like Alexa, our tears and tantrums bring us no closer to the intimacy that we so desire. Left to ourselves, we face a barrier that is hopeless to overcome.
Fortunately, our story does not end there. Jesus sees us in our weakness and empathizes with our pain. By His grace, He meets us where we are, draws us to Himself, and makes us whole (Ephesians 2:4-5). Through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection, our barrier has come tumbling down. In Him we have affection and acceptance. In Him we are perfectly heard, intimately understood, and unconditionally loved.
That afternoon, I had the opportunity to work with Alexa one-on-one. Using an old puzzle with missing parts, I hid the pieces behind my back and taught Alexa how to sign “more” using her hands. After practicing together a few times, I then required Alexa to ask for “more” puzzle pieces using her new sign language skill. She immediately broke out into a huge smile, joyfully using the sign and giving me a hug each time she received a new puzzle piece.
Empowered with a new ability to communicate, Alexa was able to experience what it means to be truly heard. Being heard, she was finally able to experience the excitement of being truly understood. Being understood, Alexa was able to experience the joy of being truly loved.
How humbling that God chose to use me, an imperfect vessel, to provide the gift of understanding to a spunky, non-verbal chica at the Amigos Academy. Currently, Alexa uses 10-15 verbal words to communicate, and her behavior in the classroom has drastically improved. With her new ability to be understood, Alexa is ready to conquer the world.
At Amigos for Christ, it is our mission to share the love of God with others by hearing and understanding their wants and needs. Day by day, we make Christ more visible by showing others what it is like to be cared for and known. We allow the amazing love of Jesus to both fill and flow through us. Every time I experience this great love, I follow sweet Alexa – placing my hands together and asking God for more.