Saturday, June 11, 2016

Seek to understand, not simply to be understood.

We are constantly asking people to understand us.  "Take a walk in my shoes and then you will know why I do what I do."  "If you would understand my issues, you would understand why I do what I do."

The desire to be understood runs deep.  Everyone wants to be listened to, heard, and understood.  And honestly sharing our pain, our troubles, our idiosyncrasies, not a bad thing.  I actually believe it is good.  However, I have come to a conclusion - we as people are always asking people to understand us and we rarely take the time to understand others.

Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as our self.  We want to be understood - so we ought to seek to understand.  You want us to understand how difficult it is for you due to your PTSD to keep appointments.  Your disorder is why you do not call when you miss an appointment, why you are late, and you cannot find the strength sometimes to even get out of the house.  Got it.  I will seek to understand.  I will empathize and forgive.  I will be a listening ear.  However, you too now must understand how frustrating and disappointing it is when people depend on you and you break appointments.  You now must understand why people no longer depend on you.  People no longer depend on you because you are undependable.  I know why you are undependable; but I have learned the lesson to simply not depend on you.

You want us to understand how frustrating it is to be sick.  You are right.  As healthy, we do need to try to understand how one must feel when one is sick.  We are called to have patience, tact, and understanding.  I will attempt to ignore the sighs, the bad moods, and the complaining.  However, now you need to try and understand how hard it must be to deal with someone in a bad mood who has become hyper-demanding because their life has become their illness.  Now understand how becoming a maid/cook/breadwinner while also being a nurse is exhausting.

As a pastor I have gone into the room of a sick patient where they lament that their loved one simply does not understand the pain/guilt/and strain they are going through.  Their loved one, they say, acts as if caring for them is a burden.  I pray with them and minister to them.   I then leave that room after praying with them to encounter that loved one crying because their sick loved one simply does not understand how hard it is to deal with their bad moods, demanding attitude, and unappealing nature.  I pray with them.  I minister to them.

Both parties have legitimate gripes.  Neither party seeks to understand the other but instead they keep wishing the other would understand them - neither party is happy.

We live in a culture where everyone has a megaphone and they are screaming, "understand me!  Understand me!  Understand me!"  Yet - since everyone has their own megaphone and everyone is screaming, "Understand me!" there is no one left to understand; everyone is too busy trying to be understood.

I know of that which I speak.  I have gone through painful experiences in my life - we all have.  I can assuredly tell you that it was of great comfort when people approached me and legitimately said, "I understand what you are going through...I am here for you..."  That was huge.  That was huge when Beth had a miscarriage.  That was huge when our child went through surgery.  That was huge when my father died.

I want to be that kind of a person - the kind of person that goes up to people and says, "hey...I understand...let me help you..."  But that is the kind of person whose focus is not on themselves - that is the kind of person that seeks to love - not to be loved.

Folks, we all have issues.  We all have problems.  We - you and me - need to stop demanding that everyone bow to our issues and instead begin bowing to theirs.  It is the key to joy.  Getting outside of ourselves and investing in other people is the key.

We have a Savior that was at total peace.  He was assured of love from the Father and was filled with that love and poured it out into other people.

My prayer is to be filled with His love so that I can love.  Amen.