Not Understanding

November 17, 2008 — Leave a comment

My dad likes to call me a professional student and I suppose there’s truth to that description. While some people hate school, I love it. It’s not that I think homework or projects are the best thing since slice bread (who does?) but I love the process of learning. Some people might ask, “If you love it so much, why’d you rush through it?” but frankly that’s another story for another day.

My relentless quest of inquiry is great for studies, but less than magnificent when it comes to relationships. I guess its because within education there’s a certain expectation that understanding can be achieved. I apply that to people and I’m often left short. Despite my intuitive nature (according to Meyers-Brigg), and years of study, people still surprise me. Sometimes in good ways, but unfortunately those are the instances that are hard to remember. It’s the hurts, trials, and careless words that pierce my soul. These happenings dig even deeper when I can’t fathom the reason for their existence. It’s one thing if I can anticipate that someone might be upset with me (like the person I accidentally cut off on the freeway) it’s a completely different thing when someone I’m close to is less than thoughtful with their actions. It seems to hurt even worse precisely because the cause of it remains a mystery.

What I’m trying to learn though is that understanding is not a prerequisite for trust. Just like I want to remind the upset person on the freeway that we all cut people off sometimes, I try to remind myself that I’m sure I’ve unintentionally hurt others before. Just because I’m guilty of this fallacy, I don’t want my friends to write me off. Instead I want them to understand that sometimes life isn’t what we intend, but that my commitment to them, while maybe not evident in that particular action, is still meaningful and strong. Complete understanding isn’t required for relationships (after all, how many of us can say we understand God). Love triumphs understanding, even in pain.

I am certain that despite my commitment to inquiry there are things in life that will forever remain a mystery. I’m also convinced that sometimes a lack of understanding is for our good for complete understanding would destroy the beauty of the unexpected blessing. So I aim not for understanding, but for love, trusting that it really is “the greatest of these.” (I Cor. 13:13b)

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