In Others’ Words: Choosing Between Love and Understanding

Loved or understood 2015 Loved or understood? Do we have to choose between the two?

I don’t think so.

When we take the time to understand someone else, isn’t that a form of loving that person? Understanding someone demands concentrated effort. Sometimes we must set aside prejudices and preconceived ideas about a person. Understanding happens when we listen. When we consider someone else more important than ourselves — when we let their story take precedence over ours.

It’s not so much which came first: loving or understanding? It’s more that you can’t have one without the other. If you understand someone, you can’t help but care for them in at least some small way. And if you love someone, then you are willing to put in the effort to understand them — to ask who are you and why are you who you are

In Your Words: If you had to choose, would you want to be loved or understood? Why? And what do you think of George Orwell’s quote? Is it a matter of choosing one or the other — or are being loved and being understood intertwined?

 

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10 Comments

  1. June 24, 2015, 12:35 am   /  Reply

    Oh, loved, definitely. I’m not interested in being understood, and I’m no longer interested in understanding myself, beyond a certain point.

    The problem with ‘understanding’, as I see it, is that it does not have a privileged frame of reference; what we understand, or think we understand, depends on extrapolation from our own experiences, and our current interpretation of the effect those experiences have had on us.

    There are people who understand sports, and use sports metaphors for combat…which is ludicrous. And the reverse is true, because I know I do not understand the things that drive athletes to dedicate their lives to games or contests of skill and strength. See? Even in saying that, my experiences color my viewpoint – because there’s a faint tinge of derision in what I wrote – and I did try to excise.

    Doesn’t really matter, though, because we stop to understand, to study, at the expense of doing. You can learn a lot more, and a lot more of value by tossing a frisbee back and forth with a gal or guy than you can in an interminable late-night conversation. The talk may be interesting and enlightening, but it’ll also be rife with posturing, with what the person wants to be seen AS, at that moment, perhaps driven by fatigue, and surely driven by the desire to make some sort of impression…though you may only be a mirror, showing what one looks like from outside.

    Frisbee time is unforced, and the eternal values of the souls come through in gesture, body language, smiles, and laughter. They may not be defined, but if you’re paying attention you can get a much better sense of personhood, of character.

    Also, we may not love that which we understand well. The people who understand me, and the tectonic forces and events that shaped my past, are a little bit scared of me, and their love is tempered by that. I’m best appreciated at a distance, and behind a barrier – “In Case of War, Break Glass”.

    I think it was Immanuel Kant who said that to understand all is to forgive all. If one adds the corollary that forgiveness is the foundation upon which love is built, it would seems to contradict my premise…but those who best understand me have not quite “forgiven” me. Indeed, the more they learned, the harder became the unforgiving membrane in the shell surrounding the embryonic love. I’m one example, and maybe a statistical outlier, but I may yet be a valid data point.

    In the end, I’d just want to be loved. and understood in the context of that love. It would be better for me, because it would call me to be my best, within that relational definition.

    And what we are, and have, is fundamentally defined by relationships. I spent decades running from that.

    • June 24, 2015, 1:27 pm   /  Reply

      Andrew, my friend, I think you wrote the better post today.

      • June 24, 2015, 4:52 pm   /  Reply

        Beth, wow, that’s the highest compliment I’ve had in a long, long, long time.

        It’s a question I think about a lot.

  2. June 24, 2015, 6:15 am   /  Reply

    Definitely loved. Who understands us really? lol. You can understand someone and not overlook their trespasses. Love cover a multitude of sins!

    • June 24, 2015, 1:28 pm   /  Reply

      I think it is when we understand ourselves … and the grace of God …that we can grasp that love that covers a multitude of sins.

  3. June 24, 2015, 10:20 am   /  Reply

    Hmmm, interesting quote and interesting questions. As I read your post, it got me thinking about the truth that we each receive love in different ways. So, maybe sometimes, we need to understand another to know how to best love them. My hubby is an acts of service guy. Any time I serve him, he’s feeling the love. If I speak my love to him, but I don’t show him, I think I’m loving him, but he doesn’t feel like I understand what speaks love to him. Yeah, learned this lesson the hard way, a few times.

    I definitely agree that understanding and loving go hand-in-hand. I think we have to learn how to do both to become better at both. I don’t believe, in a personal, genuine relationship, that they can be one or the other.

    • June 24, 2015, 1:29 pm   /  Reply

      Jeanne, I like how you insert the topic of love languages into the conversation today. It is so true that we need to understand how someone else receives love to love them more truly.

  4. Gail Hollingsworth
    June 24, 2015, 10:34 am   /  Reply

    I personally think if someone really loves you then they understand you also to a certain point. But life brings change, surprises, unexpected things that we have to adjust to. So based on what might happen, I don’t always understand why I do some of the things I do. I surprise my own self at times with how I react and what I say in a certain situation. Many times I stop,and think, why did I say that?
    I’m loving your quotes in the beginning of each chapter of Crazy Little Thing Called Love. And I’m loving the book as well! I’m underlining each time Tuscaloosa is mentioned because that’s where I live!

    • June 24, 2015, 1:31 pm   /  Reply

      Gail:
      Good point! Sometimes we don’t understand why we do the things we do — and we have to stop and analyze our actions, our response to a pers on or situation.
      Are you surprised I put quotes at the beginning of the chapters? 🙂 I had such fun with that!
      And here’s the behind-the-scenes reason for mentioning Tuscaloosa: dear friends are from there and it is my nod to them. 🙂

  5. June 25, 2015, 5:52 am   /  Reply

    I think a sign of love is to try to understand the person we love. I agree the love language is a great way to show our love to others.

    Thanks for sharing, Beth. Lots to think about.

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