When I phoned the audiologist at NYU for an appointment to have my son’s hearing tested, the receptionist on the other end of the line took down our information:
“And, what is your street address?”
“106 E 79th Street.”
“Thank you for calling. We look forward to seeing your son next week. Have a nice day.”
Upon arriving at the audiologist’s office the following week, the woman at the front desk reviewed our information, checked us in, and then inquired curiously:
“What is your street address?”
“106 E 79th Street.”
“Seventy-ninth street??” She laughed.
The woman insisted she show me J‘s digital record as entered by the audiologist’s receptionist the week previous, on her computer screen.
106 E Sunday Night Street
Maybe someone else needs a visit to the audiologist.
Well, that receptionist is not alone. There are times I have, unintentionally, mistaken one message for another. When I first started learning Sign Language, the Sign for “reindeer” looked a lot like the Sign for “the devil”. Church meetings became more comical, and Christmas carols, all of a sudden, more dark!
And, though the mistaken “Sunday Night Street” did no harm that day at NYU, at other times, we mistake what is said to us by loved ones or leaders, friends or assumed enemies. And relationships are damaged.
To me and to anyone else who needs a “visit to the audiologist”, these two bits of advice come to mind:
(1) I think it was Brigham Young who said, “He who takes offense when offense was not intended is a fool. But he who takes offense when offense was intended is an even greater fool.” Guilty.
(2) If, after having seriously considered (1), we still feel like we ought to address the offender for clarification, we could all heed the words of the old crow. The last message I heard my husband’s grandmother share before her death was at a bridal shower for her granddaughter. She counseled, “In your marriage, when your feelings have been hurt, tell your husband, ‘When you said … What I heard was …'” If done so humbly, not defensively, this approach to misunderstandings may help other relationships, too.
Ultimately, we can seek for healing and the gift of understanding, from the only “audiologist” who is all-understanding, our Lord and our Wonderful Counselor. He will soften hearts – our own hearts. He will offer forgiveness, to both the offended and the offender. He will “deepen (our) joys, expand (our) vision, quicken (our) minds, strengthen (our) muscles, lift (our) spirits … and pour out peace.”