The life of raising a child with special needs can be frustrating and draining. But dealing outsiders is a whole other deal. Whether it is your extended family, friends, church leaders, or neighbors, dealing with outsiders can be extremely frustrating.
Attempting To Make Others Understand Repeatedly
This past week, my wife called me as I was driving to the store. It wasn’t 5 seconds before I redirected home. She was crying. Stephanie is not the crying type either.
She scattered out 4 words between the cries, “They…..just…..don’t…..understand.” She had just gotten off the phone. Her hour phone conversation had left her frustrated and hurt. She repeated it again, “They just don’t understand.”
I won’t go into details about her phone conversation, but honestly, I don’t believe I have to. This is a popular conversation among parents who are raising children with special needs. You might be reading this and had this “they just don’t understand” conversation yesterday, last week, or last month.
The hard part about “they just don’t understand” conversations is the failure in two communication. Do you fail in your communication? Do you fail in your delivery? Do others fail in listening? It could be any or all of those reasons, but the conversation was still unsuccessful, so we think. We try to make them understand, but they still don’t understand.
What makes these conversations worse? It is the repetition. Again and again you feel like you have to explain your situation because they never get it. FRUSTRATING!
Why They Don’t Understand
When trying to make others understand your situation, your challenges, your diagnosis, your family, and your life, there is something getting lost in translation. Think about it, how could they understand? Unless they live the life you live and walk the walk you journey down, there is no way to completely understand.
We attempt to explain and describe situations to others with no success everyday. We draw pictures, tell stories, and describe details, but others still don’t understand. They can’t. But, is our goal really to make others understand any ways?
Have you ever asked, “Why am I trying to make others understand?” Is it justification? Is it sympathy? What is it?
No matter what it is, I believe we need to rethink trying to get others to understand our life and challenges.
Jesus – “They Just Don’t Understand”
Matthew 16:9 – “Do you still not understand?”
Matthew 16:11 – “How is it you don’t understand…”
Mark 4:13 – “Don’t you understand this parable?”
Mark 8:17 – “Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened?”
Mark 8:21 – “Do you still not understand?”
Luke 18:34 – “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.” (Right before Jesus’ crucifixion.)
Every time I try to make others understand our special life raising our daughter with Down syndrome, I think about Jesus. I wonder how frustrated Jesus got with his disciples after teaching, working, and living with his friends for 3 years and yet they still didn’t understand. Right up to Jesus death, they still didn’t understand. FRUSTRATED!
The disciples didn’t understand because they couldn’t see what Jesus saw. Jesus had to die and be resurrected before they could see through his eyes. It was through faith they were able to understand Jesus finally.
What Jesus Is Teaching Us To Understand
You might be wanting to make others understand your situation, but be patient. Attempt to not be frustrated or angry with them, be patient. They are not seeing your life through your eyes, they can’t. Simply teach them. Teach once, twice, three times, and for 3 years. Invite them to see your world. And remember, be patient.
But there is a warning. Don’t make others understand for your sake. You don’t need justification, you have Jesus. You don’t need sympathy, Jesus has provided. Allow them to understand for their sake, not yours. Take the pressure off yourself because you are already justified, accepted, and loved unconditionally by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Remember, they won’t understand immediately. Teach and be patient.
Original image courtesy of Gualberto107 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net