Call – Opelika-Auburn News
Offer your friends the precious
gift of understanding
Elton Trueblood once said the best
thing one person can do for another is to offer encouragement. Well,
understanding is encouragement at its best. And I can testify that over the
long haul, nothing can beat the gift of understanding, especially if it comes
from your spouse.
Many times, when I was ready to give
up on myself, my wife came to my rescue simply by standing by me with an understanding
heart. Without her understanding I would have thrown in the towel.
on I took her help for granted. Then as the years went by I became more and
more thankful for her unwavering support. Actually I revel now in the reality
that somewhere, along the way, we became inseparable partners in this journey
called life. And I realize I could not have made it without her. I owe her a debt I can never repay.
I am indebted to many dear friends
also for their support. Good friends make a powerful difference by offering
their understanding, and it works best in hard times. Recently a good friend’s kind support at a
difficult moment touched my heart. I was reminded again how the soul is strengthened
when someone says, without criticism or a judgmental spirit, "I
I hate to admit it but I am good at rushing
to judgment. I am quite capable of being insensitive. Many of us are. We can
hurt the feelings of our loved ones or best friends without meaning to do it.
We can quickly condemn others when they have been foolish, careless or
What we all need is more
understanding and less condemnation. And when understanding is flavored with a
bit of encouragement, then it is like a medicine that makes us well.
Failure, illness, loss of a job,
divorce, or the loss of a loved one can trigger despair in the best of us. None
of us is immune from the perplexities of life. When despair settles in, the
last thing we need is have someone advise us to "stop feeling sorry for yourself." Such a comment only deepens the gloom that
surrounds us like a fog.
What works wonders is for someone,
especially a friend, to forget about their own struggles long enough to
identify with us, and to say genuinely, "I understand what you are going
through." People who are not presently caught in the web of heartache are
prone to suggest quick cures for others who are in trouble. We all need to remember that “it is hard for
a free fish to understand a hooked fish."
Recovery and healing take time. None
of us can easily recover from harsh experiences that bring us to our knees in
defeat or despair. When we are down we can be "cut us to the quick"
by those who judge us harshly. We need time, understanding and the gentle
caring of others.
People need people. Drugs are not
enough. Even expert counseling is not enough. A new beginning is seldom
possible without the aid of a few friends who simply come alongside us and say
gently, “I understand.” I remember with joy a time when my wife was struggling
with a sense of failure as a mother. Our friend June came to the door and said
as I invited her inside, “I have come not to say anything but to sit with
Dean.” Her presence, without words, provided the understanding that Dean
The wonderful thing is that every person can participate in this kind of healing. We can benefit from the help and understanding of a good friend, and we can offer our own kindness and understanding to others around us.
Reading this, you may think you are
an exception, that you are tough, self-reliant, and strong. You may be trying
to convince yourself that you don't need anybody. You can
make it on your own. Most likely you are wrong. Chances are you are made like
the rest of us. You would be wise to admit you cannot make it without help.
Why? Because, like every other human being, you need the gift
So how do you find the understanding
you need? Look around you. Find someone
to whom you can offer your own gracious understanding, and give it. Stop
harping about what's wrong and focus on what is right with the people near you.
Just do it – encourage some hurting friend with the gift of your understanding.
First thing you know, it will come back to you, and
sometimes from unexpected sources. The medicine you give may be exactly the
medicine you need. + + +