When I was in high school I had a boyfriend who bought me a cute little shirt for my birthday. It was hot pink and it was sparkly and cute. The shirt was my absolute favorite; not because of the color, but because of the words that were on the shirt. Almost 30 something years later and I still remember what that shirt said.
“Don’t try to understand me, just love me.”
I thought that was just the absolute best sentiment ever, and I have spent so many years believing this was the key to happiness in love. I have also spent so many years not finding happiness in love. When I was fifteen years old, I didn’t understand myself, and perhaps at that time what I really needed was just to be loved. This is the case with all teens; they just need to be loved while still defining themselves. As a mature adult, I now know that I spent so many years with an outdated way of thinking. What I know now is this; to understand me is to love me. Understanding means to comprehend. According to Google.com, Understanding means being sympathetically aware of other people’s feeling; tolerant and forgiving. It also means having insight or good judgment. It would appear, and the definition supports this theory, that to love someone properly, you need to understand them. How we understand someone is to listen to them; not listen to respond but listen to comprehend. In addition to that, when someone does open their heart to expose themselves to you; to allow you insight into them, this information should not be used for the purpose of judging, but solely for the purpose of understanding.
To understand someone is to love them.
There are things about us that make us unique. In my very first book, “The Journey to Peace,” I call these things “quirks.” We all have them, we all have quirks. These quirks don’t simply materialize from thin air, they actually come from somewhere. I like to believe I am an open book, and sometimes that belief is literal. In my first book, I wrote about being molested by a man who worked for my father. I trusted the man because my dad did, and never having experienced anything like that, I was not guarding myself. I don’t recall the moments right before, or why he was in such close proximity to me, but before I knew it, he was tickling my stomach and the tickling of my stomach turned into him fondling my breast. To this day, being tickled makes my stomach churn. If someone tickles me, I immediately go back to that day. That was the first time in my life when something bad happened to me. My parents had kept my sister and I in a secure little bubble, and this was the first time someone got in. This fondling was not the worse thing I have had to endure in my life, but it was the FIRST thing. If I have a partner who thinks it might be fun to tickle me, despite my stern objections, they might think I am just being unwilling to loosen up, but it is not a matter of that, it invokes a true fear and very unpleasant memories.
I also know that understanding someone comes with getting to know them, and there are times when that luxury isn’t afforded to us. We tend to make judgements about people even though we know so little about them. We are suppose to show compassion to other humans, and honestly there is no room for judgment in compassion.
Quite a few years ago, I went to church with a man, and despite the fact that my husband liked him and called him a friend, I did not like him. I had my reasons. He was married and him and his wife had several kids together. He also had kids from other women who were the same ages as those he had with his wife. I just could not stomach this dude, yet every time I turned around, my husband was inviting him to our house or accepting an invitation to his. One night while I was at a Good Friday service, God instructed me to pray for him. I did. I prayed for him that night, the next, the next and so on. After about a week or so of this, I found that my heart was changing about this man, and where I previously found him annoying, the same traits made him seem more humorous. I never could get myself to overlook all the kids he had while committing adultery, but I came to understand that it was not for me to judge. This was a man that despite it all, was being a father to all of kids and not denying their existence. Praying for him allowed me to have compassion for him and the more compassion I had, the less judgment I had; until one completely replaced the other.
I never tried to understand why he was the way that he was, I decided instead to judge him. Thankfully, God spoke to my heart concerning him.
I am not the only person who has done this, but I am honest enough to admit it. We are human and although it is not biblical to judge, we judge anyhow. Listening to respond and passing judgment on others is part of the human flaw, but when we insert love, understanding and compassion into the equation, we are likely to have a better outcome.
To understand someone is to love them; however if you are not close enough to them to get to know them…try compassion. That works too.