Saturday, October 6, 2018

Using Miscommunication in Your Stories

by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

I was in the kitchen, fixing a sandwich for my son. Well, not exactly a sandwich but a piece of bread slathered with strawberry jam.

Then, I lost my mind. At least, it began to wander off.

A mother was coming home from work and her husband met her at the door. Their young daughter had locked herself in her bedroom.


He was at his wit’s end.

“Honey, I don’t know what happened. I was making her a snack and she just started crying and slammed her door. Will you talk to her?”

She put her briefcase on the counter, walked down the hall, and tapped on the door. “It’s Mommy. Will you let me in?”

She heard the door unlock and went inside. Her daughter, red eyed, sat on her bed with a pink princess blanket, holding a stuffed Eeyore.

“Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

More tears. Finally, with trembling lips, her little angel looks up.

“Daddy doesn’t love me.”

“What? But of course he does. Why do you say that?”

Her little girl sniffed. “You know how, when you make my sandwiches, you cut it diagonally. You say you do that because you think I’m special and you love me.” She hid her face and, between sobs, said, “Daddy cut it down the middle.”

Communication. Whether verbal or nonverbal, there is always a chance the receiver may take the message a way we didn’t mean. We think the other person will surely understand what we’re saying, but often our wires get crossed, or unconnected.

Miscommunication can come from different backgrounds, different contexts, or different goals.

How could this add conflict or suspense to your story?

You can have miscommunication without either party being bad. A young boy becomes interested in a girl. But when he gives her a birthday gift, she runs off and won’t talk with him anymore.

You ask him what happened.

He shakes his head. “I don’t understand. She said she wanted us to spend more time on the weekend together. So I bought her a sweet, Daiwa spinning reel.”

She says, “I wouldn’t spend a second in those mosquito-infested swamps.”

Different backgrounds and different interests make for interesting conflicts.

We don’t suffer miscommunication only in our earthly relationships, but also in our relationship with God.

He doesn’t love me. He doesn’t care. He can’t. He won’t.

Recently, I read Whisper, by Mark Batterson, which is about how to hear the voice of God. He writes that God speaks to us all the time, but we often miss it.

He identifies seven ways God speaks to us. What he calls God’s love languages:
  • signs
  • scripture
  • desires
  • doors
  • dreams
  • people
  • promptings
  • pain

These are ways He communicates with us, but we get tripped up because we often have the wrong context. We have preconceived beliefs that reject the truths God’s given us.
  • God is big. There is nothing He can’t do.
  • God is able. There is nothing He needs.
  • God’s biggest desire is—you. You are not too insignificant to Him.

But that isn’t logical, is it? You don’t understand how a great God could care about you. Or you don’t feel very loved.

That’s exactly the point. God’s ways are not our ways. If you have any doubts, listen to Him. But you have to listen closely. When He speaks, He whispers.


Tim Suddeth has been published in Guideposts’ The Joy of Christmas and on He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He is a member of ACFW and Cross n Pens. Tim’s lives in Greenville, SC with his wife, Vickie, and his happy 19-year-old autistic son, Madison.  Visit Tim at and on Facebook and Twitter. He can be also reached at


  1. Yes, Tim, often God answers a question I have through a random magazine article I pick up and read. Or a thought spoken by a friend. He has spoken in some rather uncanny ways, in addition to speaking through the most important, His Word.

  2. I love your example using the child at the beginning of the post to explain miscommunication. There are too many distractions in our world today that keep us from hearing God. I think that's why He tells us to "Be still and know that I am God." We have to turn everything else off. And, yes, He is always there for us!

  3. How I have come to treasure your posts Mr. Tim. Loved this one! God's blessings sir.

  4. I love your seven ways God speaks to us. Sometimes half of them contradict the other half however. What then? Oh, yeah. Wait patiently. :-)