The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. Psalm 119:130 (NRSV)
As a person who has hyperlexia, the phrase “audience appropriate” is a concept I always have to keep in mind in both written and spoken communication. I write far more effectively than I speak, because I speed read (always have) and I have a broad vocabulary because I read constantly and compulsively. I retain information better when I read it as well. If I want to remember what someone says, such as in a lecture or sermon, I do better to write it down, (which is why I am always scribbling down notes during Pastor’s sermon) because I process language visually. When I listen to people speak, I have to visualize the words in my head written out in print so they make sense.
This processing style can make communication with others difficult, because most people don’t process language this way. I memorize much of what I read, because I can see the print in my head. As a child, I assumed that if I knew the meaning of a word or a concept that everyone else automatically knew those meanings as well. I found out very quickly that I had no idea what it meant to be audience appropriate. I was communicating in a way that I could understand, but no one else around me was privy to the conversation. I was not communicating effectively with others.
All through elementary school (and later in life too) I have been reprimanded for “talking over everyone’s heads.” I didn’t talk over people’s heads on purpose, but over the years I have learned (and constantly continue to learn) how to be audience appropriate and to communicate effectively with the people I am speaking with or writing to.
The message doesn’t matter if the messenger can’t get it through.
Fortunately God finds a way to speak to us exactly where we are. God is beyond our understanding and His knowledge is infinitely over our heads, but He finds the right language to speak directly to our hearts and minds. He walks beside us as we learn and grow at our own pace. God unfolds and reveals His wisdom to us as we are able to understand. His revelation and unfolding of His wisdom is more like slowly turning on a dimmer switch and gradually brightening the room, rather than blinding us with a flaming bright spotlight. He enlightens us gently and gradually- as we are able to absorb the light and soak it in.
Sometimes we all have difficulty being audience appropriate, and not just in the realm of written or spoken language. It can be difficult for us to empathize with others, to put ourselves in the place of those who are suffering or weary or troubled. How often do we write off someone who claims to be “fine” when we know full well they are anything but “fine?” We are prone to get lost in our busyness or buried in our own concerns to see how a simple act of kindness toward another could communicate a vital message of reassurance and love.
God’s words in Scripture are unfolded and revealed as we study, as we pray, and as we worship and praise in songs and hymns. God’s words are also unfolded and revealed as we strive to make connections with others that bring light and wisdom and understanding.
The Holy Spirit is always available to us to intercede on our behalf, to step in and pray for us when we don’t have the words.