Special to 0-A News
From Walter Albritton, Senior Pastor Trinity UMC
For Sunday, July 18, 1999


Understanding is one of the most precious gifts we can give one another

A good friend made me aware again how precious is the gift of understanding. His understanding at a difficult moment was heartwarming. It caused me to remember what it does to the soul when someone says, without criticism or a judgmental spirit, "I understand."

We are all capable of being insensitive. We can hurt the feelings of our loved ones or best friends without meaning to do it. We can be quick to condemn others when they have been foolish, careless, or thoughtless.

What people need, what we all need, at such times is understanding, not condemnation. And when understanding is flavored with a bit of encouragement, then it is like a tonic that helps us recover.

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 for someone to come along with the stern advice to simply "stop feeling sorry for yourself." Such a comment only deepens the gloom into which we are settling.

What works wonders is for someone, especially a friend, to forget about their own struggles long enough to really identify with us, and to genuinely say, "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. Someone wisely said, "It is hard for a free fish to understand a hooked fish." How true!

Recovery and healing take time. None of us is easily and quickly recovered from the harsh experiences which "cut us to the quick." We need time, and understanding, and the gentle caring of the significant others in our lives. People need people. Medicine is not enough.
Even Robinson Crusoe needed someone.

Most of the time, a new beginning is quite impossible without the aid of a few friends.
The wonderful thing is that every person can participate in this kind of healing. We can not only benefit from the help and understanding of a good friend, we can also offer our own kindness and understanding to others around us.

Perhaps you are tough, self-reliant, and strong. You may be trying to convince yourself and others that you don't need anybody. You can make it on your own. Maybe, but I doubt it. Chances are you are made like the rest of us. Your best bet most likely is to go ahead and admit you cannot make it on your own. Why? Simply because God has not made anybody who does not need the gift of understanding.

But how do you find the understanding you need? Look around you, find someone to whom you can offer your own gracious understanding, and do it. Stop harping about what's wrong and focus on what is right with the people around you.

Just haul off and give somebody the gift of your own understanding.

First thing you know, it will come back to you, and often from unexpected sources.