Being understood

I recently came across a sentence in a book which resonated with a deep longing in me: “the joy of being understood without having to explain.” In friendships, in marriage, with strangers, even towards myself, the necessity of explaining is ever present. The interpreter who would preform the battle on my behalf between what is expressed and what is actually meant can seem ever lacking. Even when the spoken languages are the same, most conversations are in need of further clarification for the desired message to be grasped correctly.

And then, once in a blue moon, you meet a person and have a conversation which produces such pure joy; words can go unsaid, and yet you feel perfectly understood. The joy of being understood without having to explain. We all long for it.

“Uniquely Me” by Alex Graham James

I am

a confusion of cultures.

Uniquely me.

I think this is good

because I can


the traveller, sojourner, foreigner,

the homesickness

that comes.

I think this is also bad

because I cannot

be understood

by the person who has sown and grown in one place.

They know not

the real meaning of homesickness

that hits me

now and then.

Sometime I despair of

understanding them.

I am

an island


a United Nations.

Who can recognise either in me but God?

(As reproduced in Third Culture Kids by D. Pollock and R. Van Reken).

To some of us this longing might feel more urgent than for others, though it is just as real for us all. How precious it is then, that mysterious meeting when our longing is satisfied. The fragile moment of being vulnerable, yet welcomed as family, even by strangers. Be it a discussion of politics, religious affection, sharing of stories, a breathtaking view or the silent tears running down our cheeks. How we long to be understood! And how invaluable it is to seek to understand.

Can we learn from the One who became human, who lived and died and rose again for us so that we can be counted righteous and blameless before God? He entered a culture and a people distinctly different from His Father’s divine presence. He lived a life where He experienced the fullness of pain and suffering, as well as joys and everyday pleasures.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

Jesus understands. He sees, He feels, and He has gone through it all. His immense love is ever present in His welcoming embrace. Meet Him as a stranger, new friend or a brother, He is longing for you to see that every second with Him is meant to be one of those precious moments. He understands! Let your longing find its ultimate fulfilment in Him.


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