3 For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.
(2 Nephi 31:3)
Even when two people appear to speak the same language, they may not be able to communicate with each other very effectively. The same words may mean slightly different things to them. Phrases and sentences which are drenched with meaning for one person may have very different associations for another.
At work, a part of my job has always been “translating.” Everyone in the room may be native English speakers, but when a person from an accounting background begins to speak, then a person from a software development background may not be able to grasp the implications of his or her words. Finding a common nomenclature can be a critical prerequisite to achieving true communication.
In the passage above, Nephi assures us that God speaks to us “according to [our] language.” I do think that one manifestation of this is the missionaries who learn foreign languages in order to teach the people of the world. My daughter, for example, is currently immersed in Portuguese as she serves and teaches the people of Brazil. But I think Nephi’s statement has an even deeper meaning. Not only does God speak English, He can speak to me using words which have unique meaning to me. The same message, given to another person, might not have the same associations or the same meaning.
This week, as I struggled with an organizational challenge, I prayed asking for help. A specific phrase entered my mind during that prayer which helped me to think about the situation in a more productive way and to take actions which helped me to move forward. Like the guidance of a coach, we can receive customized instructions from our Heavenly Father which resonate with us and which help us to be successful.
Today, I will be grateful that God can speak to me “according to [my] language, unto [my] understanding.” I will reach out to Him in prayer, knowing that He can provide guidance and answers to questions using words that are meaningful and useful to me personally.