"...We are all very anxious to be understood, and it is very hard not to be. But there is one thing much more necessary."
"What is that, Grandmother?"
"To understand other people."
"Yes, Grandmother, I must be fair - for if I'm not fair to other people, I'm not worth being understood myself. I see..."
From The Princess and the Goblin by George Macdonald
I was reading this to the boys today and this passage struck me. So much of the source of my grief in life has come from my pain at being misunderstood. When I was younger I tried not to care what other people thought (It's their problem!) then when that didn't work, I would decide to withdraw and just not open up any more. Neither option works when you desire to really take part in the life of the Kingdom of God.
Experience has taught me to be more careful, less hasty, and maturity has taken away some of that need to always have a say in the matter, to always prove my "rightness". These things have helped. But this passage hit me in a fresh way. To make it one's objective to understand others, to put that obective before your own need to be understood. Hmmm. I detect much food for thought here. I shall have to reflect on this further with a hot cup of tea, a cozy blanket and a fire in the fireplace.