Our Desire to be Understood Undermines Our Need to Understand
#Blacklivesmatter! #Alllivesmatter! #Policelivesmatter! Meme after meme and post after post, social media is a vortex of emotional outcries, angry debates, and confirmation biases by thousands of people seeking to be understood. When you grow tired of the internet, you switch on the TV and find clips of police in riot gear, angry protesters, and concerned newscasters blasting you with their opinions and theories. Just more people wanting to be understood.
Society’s need to be understood has created a Total War against our need to understand. For those nonhistory buffs out there, Total War is essentially a war without rules, limits, or boundaries. It is a war with total disregard for others while seeking victory at all costs. Does this sound a bit familiar? In our quest to be understood, we’ve lost sight of the value understanding brings. And anyone can turn on the news or get on Facebook to see what “being understood” is doing.
Is anger, hatred, bitterness, distrust, and resentment really how we want this to go down? If everyone’s priority is to be understood, then that’s the only way this will end. And for my believing readers out there, where in Scripture does it say, “seek first to be understood”? I can assure you it doesn’t. However, it has plenty to say about understanding.
may the wise hear and increase learning, and the one who understands gain direction, to understand a proverb and an expression, words of wisdom and their riddlesProverbs 1:5-6 (LEB)
On the lips of one who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of one who lacks sense.Proverbs 10: 13 (LEB)
A scoffer seeks wisdom, but there is none, but knowledge comes easily to him who understands.Proverbs 14: 6 (LEB)
The heart of him who understands will seek knowledge, but the faces of fools, they will feed on folly.Proverbs 15: 14 (LEB)
The righteous knows the case of the poor, but the wicked does not understand knowledge.Proverbs 29: 7 (LEB)
The word understood appears meagerly 19 times in the Bible. Understanding? 247 times! I think God is trying to tell us something. It feels good to be understood. Yet anything in life that causes us to feel good can be overused, misused, and abused. Is it possible seeking to be understood is as dangerously addicting as such things like drugs, sex, alcohol, and money? My arthritic thumb and red eyes scrolling through Instagram seem to think so. Wanting and trying to be understood is not bad in and of itself. Unless wanting to be understood undermines and destroys our ability to understand.
It’s time we listened and sought understanding regardless of the “other side” doing the same. A song by Casting Crowns titled “Love Moved First” hits this nail on the head. It’s about God making the first move on a people who, in some respect, didn’t understand God. If we have any love at all for God, His creation, and His people, then I think it’s time we make our move. Love listens, love searches for understanding, and love will always move first despite the hardships of doing so (like suffering and dying on a cross). Instead of silencing each other with #Alllivesmatter, #blacklivesmatter, and #policelivesmatter memes, perhaps it’s time to silence ourselves with #listeningtolivesmatters.
Encourage and support the #blacklivesmatter campaign to make a change. And look out for, care for, and respect our law enforcement officers and their families regardless of what either “side” does. Like Christ, our Love should move first.