Today in Leadership class I taught Habit #5 of the Seven Habits of Highly Successful People: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood. Included in that chapter is an offhand comment that hit me rather strongly: the deepest need of the human heart is to be loved and understood for who it really is. It seemed a throwaway comment by the author, not commented on in any greater depth, nor explained, so why did it hit me so strongly?
It just so happens that something close to it is the deepest need of my very human heart. I happen to believe that the deepest need of the human heart is to be loved, respected, and understood for what and who it truly is. Many of my blog entries have focused on the subject of respect, at least implicitly. Sometimes, as in my reflections on the uprisings that have troubled the whole world this year, the lack of respect of rulers for their own people has been very explicitly commented on rather harshly. After all, I am a very demanding person when it comes to the respect I am owed, and that every human being is owed, simply for being created in the image and likeness of God. No greater reason is required to respect someone, all of them, their body, heart, mind, and spirit.
And yet I feel as if few people understand me, or wish to. I know I am an unusual person in many ways. I have spent enough time and effort seeking to understand others to realize that I am not a very common person, that my own personality and my own habits and inclinations are instinctually unusual. That said, I desire, very deeply, to be understood, and I believe I am not so difficult to understand if people are willing to try and genuinely interested in doing so. And yet so few people have sought to understand me, despite the fact that I seek to understand everyone and everything else as much as possible. This lack of reciprocity, and lack of respect, is very personally upsetting to me.
It has been especially frustrating that this need to be loved and respected for who I am has proven to be so difficult to find among the fairer sex. All around I see young women (and plenty of older ones) who pine away for evil bullies and continually fall into abusive relationships because they believe such evil men are not truly evil, but misunderstood. And so women who could easily be worthy of deep and lasting love put themselves into harm’s way and are corrupted and harmed by unworthy men, rather than realizing that they have deeply and tragically misunderstood plenty of worthy men they already know who are vastly less dangerous and abusive. It is difficult to explain this, but deeply painful to understand it, even if it is a truth too dangerous to express.
I look around me an see people rising up in righteous anger demanding respect. I see people find love, or what appears to be love, very quickly and almost without effort. And yet I find both love and respect to be deeply elusive. Perhaps I am not very good at recognizing it in others, but I do not easily find myself loved and respected, especially in those ways that would lead to lasting advantages (whether it be jobs or romantic relationships hopefully leading to marriage). I look around and wonder when it will be my turn to celebrate and enjoy, rather than simply to endure, this life I have been given, knowing that I was not given a heart of stone, but a heart with deep and very powerful, and also deeply frustrated, longings. If so many others might have their dark and wicked longings fulfilled, why not my own righteous and proper ones? The question is asked, and remains unanswered, at least for now.