The words tumbled out fast. Words turned into sentences. Sentences into paragraphs. Paragraphs into a lecture. Sandwiched in the middle of the lecture, I threw both hands up in the air, proclaiming he should always “seek to understand others more than he should seek to be understood.”
The boy turning pre-teen walked away, shoulders a little slumped, and my heart ached a little, my proclamation ringing in my ears.
I told him there’s no greater gift to give others than to understand them, seek out who they are, listen to their stories. But I’d never asked his. My rant went on and on, making sure he understood. I’m not sure if he did or didn’t.
Had I tried to understand his perspective? He’d done wrong, but did I give him a voice? I’d silenced his interruptions with finger wagging and a lengthy lecture, lingering on what he most needed to work out in himself.
Perhaps it was just what he needed to hear. Or perhaps what he needed most was someone seeking to understand his heart. Understand his motives.
I jump quickly to judge others by their actions, while judging myself by intentions.
Had I asked of his intentions, that gave way to actions?
I hadn’t. My lonely words echoed as I fixed the rest of supper: “Seek to understand more than to be understood.” Chopped onion and celery fell into the pot, while the chopped up words etched themselves onto my heart.
If I had said nothing at all, what would he have said? Would he have had anything to say?
I’ll never know. The night continued, everyone rested, and morning brought a new day, as it always does. The opportunity to understand his heart passed, the afternoon’s lecture a reminder of the many one-way conversations we’ve experienced.
I talk to the kids the way I talk to God.
I want them to hear everything I have to say. Understand everything I’m feeling about the situation.
When I pour out my heart before the Lord, it’s often the same. I want him to hear everything, understand my situation.
But if he already knows what we pray before we pray it, maybe I’ve missed the point? We’re instructed to pray to our Father who knows what we need before we ask Him. In all the memorizing of the most famous prayer every prayed, maybe the verse before tells us everything we need to know.