YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ME!

4:34 PM

Today has been a day of understanding.

I woke up realizing, "The reason I counsel other people is because I want to find someone with the same problems and personality as I. And when I do, and if I solve their problems, I can fix my own and understand myself. And once I understand myself, I will be able to explain myself in such a way that everyone will be sympathetic to my weaknesses and impressed with my abilities, and then I will always be loved."

I repeated this revelation to my roommate over a lunch of overpriced macaroni-and-cheese while my boyfriend's bro looked on: "But I realized that this is all pointless because I feel like if I do understand myself fully than I will hate myself, because what if I only find myself worth justifying because I truly don't understand myself and am in total denial?"

Once she stopped laughing, Claire said, "Bailey, you don't need to understand yourself."

"NO."

"Yes, Bailey," the boyfriend's friend echoed patiently. "Socrates said to Know thyself. So yes, know your weaknesses, but you don't need to understand yourself."

"BUT I DON'T WORK THAT WAY."

The problem compounded itself during class today as a very intelligent professor tried to explain a very dense author to a very dull mind: "There's a difference between meaning and significance in a verbal expression."

What. (And you're probably saying What too because I threw that at you with no context. At least your level of consternation now lies in sympathy with mine.)

For the past two weeks of this class, I could not wrap my mind around meaning and significance being two separate things. How can there be true meaning without the person understanding why I am saying this and agreeing with me in totality?

All my life, whenever somebody said, "You're a Jezebel" or "You're wrong" or simply, "I don't agree with you," my gut reaction screams, You just don't understand me! Because if you did understand me, you'd agree with me.

I think this stems first of all from me usually assuming I'm right simply because I overthink things and then come to unshakable conclusions.

I think, also, that nobody really seeks to understand what anybody is saying. Nobody stops to listen to the full argument. Communication solves everything. Almost everything. So when something is still broken, more dialogue needs to happen. People tend to treat each other as if life is one big Fox news talk show, and the person who asserts his opinion loudest wins. As if it's about avoiding conflict with another person by crushing them.

Life isn't one big Fox news talk show. People are like deep works of literature that need to be reread and reread and reread. They yield something different every time. You need more than off-hand comments and small talk and shutting the other person down in order to understand someone...much less love him.

Where was I? Understanding. Yes, understanding...and the difference between meaning and significance.

Take, for example, the conversation Mary had with her parents about an angelic visitation resulting in pregnancy.

Mary: An angel told me I would miraculously bear the Messiah.
Parents: No. Way.

If I were in Mary's shoes, I would dissolve into tears and cry, "You don't understand me!" Why? Because I wasn't believed. Because they couldn't walk in my shoes. Because they couldn't walk in my shoes since they didn't believe I was telling the truth. But I would be telling the truth. They would be wrong for disbelieving me. 

Here's the difference between meaning and significance. Her parents completely understood what she said -- they tracked with her about the angel and the pregnancy. In fact, they understood her meaning so perfectly that they disbelieved her -- how on earth could a virgin become pregnant and how on earth could our daughter bear the Messiah?

What they missed was not the meaning...just the significance. The significance that what she said was true. The significance that the Messiah was coming. The significance of how greatly blessed she was. 

I don't believe anyone should make a judgment call on something until he understands its meaning. But once someone does understanding something, he can quite justifiably and authoritatively say, "I disagree" or "I agree." 

Which is frustrating for me. I want people to grasp the significance of what I'm saying. I want them to react in a certain way -- i.e. agree with me. But that isn't always understanding. 

Actually, it just dawned on me that someone can agree with me and do what I want without understanding -- which would be just as terrible because then they truly wouldn't understand but I wouldn't understand that they didn't understand. 

You understand?

This probably matters very little to anyone else...but for me, it's a breakthrough. I can't argue someone into the same sort of significance that I attach to something. So I don't need to exhaust emotional energy on that. I just need to work on getting the meaning across and then reserve my passion for agreement for the prayer closet. 

Also, I still don't know if I agree with my roommate and the other guy. I think I don't. But then again, I don't fully understand their position...so who knows?

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