Sitting in her chair, white hair recently permed by the hairstylist into a frozen dome shaping her face and small skull I find one of my regular patients. She is in her 90's a full 60 years older then me and yet the age difference seems to flee away in conversation; so much so that often she forgets how young I am and asks me about my grandchildren. Being the fact that she is in a nursing home, some might see this slip up as proof that she has dementia or that her mind is slipping but this woman's mind is far from slipping - her body yes is failing her but her mind is sharper then mind some days (especially days when I don't get a lot of sleep).
The age difference
gets transform by her comfort and knowledge that I understand her woes.
She often comments to me about the fact that she feels I understand.
And even more importantly points out that my sermons on Sunday uplift
her because she knows they come from a place of understanding. Now I am
not trying to raise myself up here, what I am trying to talk about
today is the importance of understanding the other.
some point in childhood - usually before Kindergarten - our world
transform and we begin to understand the other. If you watch young
children play they play side by side but often not right with each
other; watching older children play you see how their imaginations work
together and their play is enhanced by the other.
is important for us to come to understand and truly want to know the
others. But one human need that is real is being FELT understood. For
us as Christians this is one way in which we can truly spread God's love
and Christ message. You see Christ walked this Earth; God humbly
walked amongst us so that through his life and death the Holy could
say that he truly walked in our shoes. Jesus walked amongst us and
knows our pains. Even when we feel alone and that no one could
possibly know what we are going through, we must be reminded that EVEN
God humbly walked as a human in order to KNOW.
is powerful stuff. The need for others to understand and the desire to
combat loneliness is a big part of our human story. We all go into
relationships because of this and we maintain those relationships for
the same desire. Yet, not everyone does understand. How powerful could
our Christian impact be if instead of condemning or judging we could
try to understand the other?
Sure we have not lived
out every possible situations - some may never know true poverty,
others may not grieve as young, some may never battle addiction or
depression, others may never lose their sight or hearing, some may never
be labeled for the color of their skin and others may never know the
pains of war - but that does not stop us from being able to understand.
A gift of humanity is that we have the capacity for compassion and the
ability to understand the other's needs.
Christians we are called to follow this. God set an example - humbly
walking amongst us! It was not even beneath the GREAT DIVINE to
experience the depth of humanity and human emotion. It was not even
beneath the HOLY ONE to come to the understanding of the other. So let
us not sit on our Great Than Thou horses. Let us come to the
understanding that we are called by our Creator to truly show love and
understanding to all we meet.
We are not meant to
judge or put people down for their situations but instead we are called
to lift up their lives and believe that through Christ anything is
possible. We are called to connect, not on the level of which we have
experience but instead on the level of which we are called to
understand. I might not know what it is like to lose control of the
body slowly or what it is like to need assistance to do daily skills.
But I do know how I would feel if I needed someone to help me in the
bathroom, or how frustrated I can get when I am without a limb due to
injury. I can understand the isolation of the building and the mundane
rhythm of each day being the same. And yet in these states, we are
called as Christians not accept them or to let them define us
but instead rising above them find where the Holy is still calling us.
We are called not to judge those who suffer but instead through Christ
and by being Christ's body in the world, bring life and light to those
who suffer; bring meaning and love and most importantly bring to them a
God who understands their pains, bore them and rose above them so that
all might one day know the Kingdom.
Today is Valentines day and the first Sunday in Lent. Reflect on how both our individual and our relationship with God is effected by our understanding of the other and / or our willingness to put away our own selfishness.