“In the Christian life we know most when we know that we do not know, and we understand best when we know that we understand little and that there is much that we will never understand.”
It is truly humbling to be a human being.
This is a problem. Pride is our vanity and we wear it with brash abandon. We think we know when we do not know, and we only learn the error of our ways when it’s too late. We are humble in retrospect. We learn humility from shame. We often learn the hard way.
Simply put, misunderstandings are commonplace, personally and interpersonally.
Take the Pressure Down
When we learn to expect less from others, and we understand afresh more of our own frailties, we can be inspired to take the pressure down so far as understanding is concerned.
Our expectations become lower. We come to accept misunderstandings are more the rule than the exception. We begin to predict mistakes of perception. We make fewer assumptions. And indeed, we can laugh more about life, appreciating the humanity within commonplace misunderstandings. The misunderstandings may not be humorous in themselves, but the fact that misunderstandings occur—that we, as humans, are given to such mistakes—is characteristically comical.
When we take life as a bunch of mistakes in daily experience we take the pressure down and come to appreciate more the genial nature of common human fellowship.
There Is Freedom Without When There Is Freedom Within
We know as soon as we expect less of ourselves, as far as knowledge is concerned, in social spaces, that we approach listening with different ideas for understanding.
The moment we enter conversation where there is a freedom within us to simply listen is the moment the rapport between two people can begin to transcend misunderstanding. Human communications were always meant to be a meeting of the minds. We can only achieve this when one gives way to another, to join with them in their meaning.
Maybe the key to becoming a good listener is having a sense of freedom within, so the mental and emotional spaces are receptive. Only when we are available to the other person can we begin to understand them.
Accepting that misunderstandings are commonplace brings much peace within. When we expect little understanding we are prepared to work harder to create it. When entering conversations we know it’ll take effort to understand. We know we will have to check our misunderstandings.
It takes situational courage to admit we don’t know.
There is much commonality between misunderstanding and humanity. We know less than we think we know. And there are some things we will never know. Accepting this brings much peace.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.