One of my favorite memories is sitting in the back of the choir room with a few of my friends in high school talking and singing Xscape songs. I owe hours of detention with Dr. Duane Best singing scales, cleaning the chalkboard and writing “Discipline is the training that makes punishment unnecessary” about 1000 times, to this habit. Do you remember the song “Understanding”? (If not, and you were born in America in the early eighties, how are we friends?)
Yes, I am going deep with Xscape, because nineties R&B speaks to me people!
Understanding is not so simple as 1-2-3, like the ladies sing, is it? King Solomon said, “The beginning of wisdom is: Get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” I cannot get the phrase “though it cost all you have” out of my mind. Understanding is expensive. Without it, we can’t actually apply the wisdom we learn to our lives.
Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed with information and knowledge that if I stopped to think about it, I haven’t retained any of it. Serving people all these years reminds me I am not alone. We’ve read Total Money Makeover and signed up for Mint.com, but our finances are still a mess. We take a marriage class, but our marriage is still on the rocks. We know health is important, but we can’t stop self-sabotaging. We read Safe People, Changes that Heal, and How to be a Best Friend Forever, and we still don’t have friends we can call at 3am. We go to conference after conference, hear sermon after sermon and our life still feels like the pits. We meet with mentors and accountability partners for coffee, and still can’t break depression or addiction in our lives.We read the Bible everyday, but cannot connect with the God of the Bible. We’re having honest conversations, but we’re not gaining traction in our desire for change.
Doesn’t it feel like we’ve heard it all? Like we’ve been there, done that, and bought the tank top?
I really need this tank top.
We are not dealing with a shortage of knowledge; we are short on understanding.Understanding is the work of wisdom. We miss each other in our lack of understanding. Communication breaks down, we make judgements and assumptions and before you know it, there’s a wedge in a relationship we love. We struggle to apply principles of truth in our every day life because we cannot connect what we know is right with what’s happening in our gut. We’re reaching for God, reaching for each other and the distance leaves us feeling disappointed and defeated.
I’ve learned the hard way that empathy trumps knowledge. “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Dangit, I have heard this half a million times in every leadership setting and it’s still true. What if our friendship meant transformation for others? What if our voice served as a change agent in people’s lives? Doesn’t it feel like a 2,000-pound elephant was lifted off your chest when someone normalizes your crazy emotions? Don’t you just love it when someone says, “Me too.” Its like what CS Lewis said in the Four Loves, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too… I thought no one but myself.'”
Understanding takes time. It requires consistent investment without motive, unusual compassion, a willingness to know and be known. It’s complicated. It’s messy. Brutal. It’s refreshing. It’s honest. Beautiful. It’s brutiful. And it will cost us all we have.
Who has changed your life through understanding? Who can you encourage today by taking the time to understand them? I want to live my life closing the gap between wisdom and understanding. How about you?
I purchased this gorgeous printable image from this Etsy Shop. It’s fun to browse while watching Madam Secretary.