How to Better Understand Others

A friend of mine and I had a long discussion a while back about looking inward at ourselves. We were talking about whether finding our faults, taking personality profiles, mode of operation analyses, the Enneagram studies, genograms and other evaluations where actually important. And why we as believers in Jesus, focus so much of our time on them as opposed to “just the Word.”

Up to this point, there had been a wave the past decade or so prior, of spiritual formation and focusing inward on ourselves…”the journey within,” I’ve heard it called. Though I perhaps dabbled in it growing up, asking God to search my heart, and then ask for forgiveness for those things, it was never an intentional desire. The intentional, continual and consistent inward journey only began about six  years ago. I’ve talked about it before in other posts, but it really was a stripping away of falsities and untruths that were either put on me or I had accepted as truth.

I have had many conversations the past few years on the idea that we just need the Bible and nothing else, and all of these extra things were a waste of time, taking away from the Truth of the Gospel. Some have said those very words and, sadly,  weren’t open to the idea that perhaps other things may add in our understanding of Christ, ourselves and ourselves in Christ. I also used to be this way, until I came to a point and began to realize that there is a great journey both inward and upward in my soul.

Marjorie Thompson said in her book, “Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life,” that  “One of the most precious results of self-knowledge is greater compassion.   The more clearly we see ourselves, the harder it becomes to  judge the weaknesses and failures of others.” I’ve also found this to be true. The moment I am quick to judge, I also quickly remember when I acted similarly and suddenly have more grace. I am human, so it doesn’t happen all the time, but I hope it has become more frequent (that might be a question for Iris 🙂

Looking at scripture we see the same pattern. The more the disciples began to understand themselves and those around them, the more compassion they began to have towards others. No more talking down to those sick, in need or children. In the early church and church history we also see this pattern. The early Desert Fathers and Mothers, missions to help the poor, sick and destitute all understood this concept as they practiced daily times of silence and meditation on scripture .

 The more clearly we see ourselves, the harder it becomes to  judge the weaknesses and failures of others. -Marjorie Thompson 

As with anything, this life of following Jesus requires a change of perspective from what we know. No matter what culture, social strata or color of skin, we all need to see life from  different perspectives in order to have a fuller understanding of ourselves and the God we serve. When we have a better understanding of ourselves, we then are able to come to others in humility, to learn from them and about them. To better understand them and give grace as grace as been given to us.

Nothing earth shattering here, I know, but a reminder to us all as I was reminded this past week as to why I desire to have a better understanding of myself. May our journey inward be upward focused in order to better love ourselves, those around us and our Creator.

be blessed today

Photo Credit: https://plus.google.com/105843274581171636167/posts
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