I've been reading some stuff by lifecoach Laura Young. One of her pieces that has caused me some serious pondering is her article "Does Anyone Really Understand You?"
I've just wrapped up the unit on gender in my online sociology class. During the 6th week of the course we get thick and heavy into the discussion of whether or not men can ever truly understand women and visa versa.
But as we move into the seventh week, I bring up the question whether or not ANY human being can fully understand another. I don't doubt we can build deep, rich, authentic connections. I have experienced true empathy from both sides of the fence. Still, something deep within me resonates when I read Young's words:
"The truth is, no one else will ever truly know what it is like to be in your shoes. No matter how much they love you. No matter how much you try to explain or get people to see. There is an internal alchemy that happens within each of us that takes all of our experiences, thoughts, feelings, events and life circumstances and cooks them down into our own unique paths and our own philosophies of life. Belief in a Higher Power aside, where humans are concerned, you are the only one on your path. You are the only one who can go where you are going, ultimately."
Early on in this blog, in a post I called "icebergs and intimacy" I wrote about the challenge of navigating the balance between boundaries of privacy and self disclosure.
I think we all hunger to be known.
In the scriptures it says "it is not good that man should be alone..." (Gen 2:18) I believe that is true. We are hard wired from the moment of creation to be social critters, people who make connections with others. Sometimes those connections lift us to wonder and awe. Sometimes they dash our hearts to bits. Still, for most of us, with all their complications and craziness, relationships with people we love are the most significant parts of our lives.
All that being said.... does anyone REALLY know anyone else?
I don't know the answer to that. But this is what I do know for sure: as much as I want people I care about to understand me deeply and to love me back, what feeds my soul the most is my allowing myself to love them. It's not a tit for tat game where I give only so long as the accounts are kept even. There are people in my life I love with wild abandon. Some of those people love me back and connect with me in meaingful ways. Some are clueless about how deeply I care about them. That's ok. I'm going to go right on loving them anyway - even when they are difficult or oblivious or well intentioned yet missing the mark. I don't love them because I'm some great human being. I don't love them because the "deserve" it. (Do any of us?) I love them because it feeds me to love. When I am in a state of genuinely reaching out my heart to others I find more peace than when I am focused on filling up my own cup.
So I will try to understand my husband/neighbor/co-worker as much as I can.
I will take a few more risk with revealing my true heart with some of my friends.
And then I'll give 'em all some grace if they don't REALLY "get" me. We all are just doing the best we can.