Why are we always so confused on what understanding means? Why is it so misconstrued with it comes to meaning. How is is that “understanding” can mean one thing to me but something else to you? Why is it so hard to understand? (see what I did there?)
How many times have you said, “I don’t understand” “I didn’t understand” “I thought I understood” “I thought we had an understanding”, only to find out that it was different when you get to the other side. The way I understand a situation or something said could be totally different than the way you understand the situation or what was said and completely the opposite of each other.
What does that mean – does that mean that my understanding is wrong and yours is right, does that mean that we are both right and wrong. We always try to justify our understanding as being right because it was our understanding of it and therefore it must be right.
I have a friend who calls that an un-understanding. In other words you didn’t understand me, you un-understood me in that you didn’t comprehend it at all. And I know it is not a word but it is an interesting way of looking at it that you had an un-understanding – or I guess for simpler things it would be a misunderstanding but in many ways it is not because you believe that what you understood was correct.
I myself have had misunderstandings in my life, a lot of them as a matter of fact. A lot them come from a way the situation is communicated. And then there are times that you don’t understand something because a person doesn’t think they need to explain or that you need to understand it. This leads to more un-understanding and hurt feelings.
Sometimes to help someone understand you have to give more details than others might feel are necessary but those details are needed to grasp a full understanding of the situation. For example, I’m going to tell you the story of Suzy. Suzy was wearing her red dress on Friday, and you may think that is odd why do I need to know Suzy had on a red dress just tell me what happened to Suzy. But then I tell you a little later when explaining what happened to Suzy that she spilled ketchup on herself and she was able to hide that stain because she had her red dress on, and it’s a good thing she was wearing her red dress because she had a speech to give that day in front of a lot of people and she wouldn’t have felt confident giving that speech had she had a ketchup stain on her dress – and in all actuality of it all I may be wanting to tell you what the purpose of Suzy’s speech was but to me the detail of her red dress and the ketchup made the speech possible therefore it was needed in my explanation.
Okay, maybe a bad example – but sometimes extra details are needed. Even if they seem useless.
Sometimes there is the understanding of a moment. Moment of understanding with a jaw drop or a “WHAT?” You don’t understand why a person would say or do something that they did and by trying to understanding why they did, it brings on more confusion and misunderstanding. This can come from someone you thought you knew are not what you thought, or someone lying to you, thinking you are friends with someone and then finding out you are not. Trying to understand why someone would commit a crime, a politician would pass a bill, your family telling someone else in your family something that they don’t really need to know.
Let’s break it down for a moment. What exactly is the definition of the word UNDERSTANDING. By definition, understanding has multiple meanings:
1. the ability to comprehend a situation, saying, or action into the perceived meaning
2. sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving
3. having insight or good judgment
Our beliefs, our morals, our background, our faith, how we were raised has a lot to do with our perception of something and therefore our understanding of it. A Christian is going to perceive a situation different than someone who doesn’t believe or have faith because they are going to pull their faith into their reasoning for their understanding of that moment. I have a Christain belief and my understandings are more faith driven, and set in God.
It is easy to be sympathetically aware of a person’s feelings or situation if you have been in their situation before, you can have a feeling of empathy for them in that moment, and therefore be more understanding and caring to their situation.
The last definition is the one that throws me off slightly. If your understanding is a misunderstanding then do you really have good insight or judgement? Some of this again leans back on faith/no faith. Political/Non-Political. Good/Bad.
Our human need to understanding everything – we need to know, we need to learn, we need to understand – why is this happening, who is doing this, what is going on – puts a greater stress on ourselves to know what another person means, feels, thinks and most of the time we aren’t meant to know those things, we aren’t meant to understand.