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When it comes to relationships, I really desire to be understood. To be seen, known, and loved. (Who doesn’t?)

But that doesn’t always happen. Not easily or naturally.

Sometimes it takes a lot of work. Like years of work.

And sometimes it does happen easily, and often. And those relationships are healing, life-giving and life-sustaining — whether that’s with your husband in your marriage or with a best friend. (I hope both)

In a perfect world, every relationship would be like that, I imagine.

But there’s no perfection this side of death, and to be entirely honest, I have grappled with that truth for years.

So something I’ve been thinking of letting go of this Lent is just that: the need to be understood.

The need to be understood

Sound familiar, Audrey Assad fans? 😉

Her song, “I shall not want,” is like a prayer of deliverance — deliverance of: “the love of my own comfort, from the fear of having nothing, from a life of worldly passions,” and further on, “From the need to be understood, from the need to be accepted, from the fear of being lonely… ”

“Deliver me, O God.”

It’s the perfect song for Lent, really.

I had never thought much about that need — my need to be understood — before I heard this song a few years ago.

But that line has really struck a chord so to speak.

I wonder: How often do I look to someone else to understand me? How often do I do the work for them to “get me?” How often do I lay it all out there in the hopes that they will? 

Too often.

And not everyone can or will understand me. This is just the reality of the world we live in, and a reality of the sorts of relationships that exist in our lives. Not every relationship will be one that’s like the one we have with our husbands or very best friends or closest family.

Not to say that that work is wasted — the work of opening up so someone can understand you. It’s a beautiful goal to have relationships like this. But I personally struggle with frustration and irritation when I’m misunderstood by someone, or by a group of people. I get hurt by it. And so I think I look for too much perfection where perfection cannot exist.

And then I’m too hard on people who don’t “get me,” thinking… how do they not understand?!

That’s one reason I’m hoping to let go of this need this Lent.

And the ironic thing is that we want to work on perfection in some ways during Lent, right? We want to become more perfected so that we can be more in union with God. I just think that our perfection in that sense can only happen when we rely on God — and His perfection — instead of seeking it out from those around us, who can’t provide it.

It’s not a giving up on people this Lent. It’s more like giving over more to God — what truly belongs to Him.

Because that need of mine, to be understood? I think it can only be fulfilled by Him, my creator, my Lord.

I also think it will give me the chance to love better the people I already love — and to receive their love better too, because I won’t be expecting something from them that they can’t entirely give me. By giving them this grace — this understanding of sorts, I think I’ll receive more of both in return as well.

I also think — and hope — that by focusing less on my need to be understood that I can focus more on that need in others. And by being more present, by listening more, I hope to create more authentic connections in my relationships.