When Friends Don't Understand

Last night I confided in a good friend something that happened to me several years ago. This is an event I have been working on in therapy for the past few weeks. It's incredibly personal and makes me feel more than a little vulnerable to disclose. But I've been friends with this person for a couple of years and she has proven to be a very understanding and sensitive friend. To my surprise, she didn't understand my experience or its effect on me. Nor did she understand my explanation as to why this experience has had such an impact on me. Her response was very kindly put, but in essence what she was saying to me was, “So…?” OUCH!!! That really hurt. I didn't realize until it was too late that what I was craving was her understanding. Someone to intellectually and emotionally connect with my past experience and my past and current hurt. But she didn't. The conversation I had with this good friend didn't help me at all. It only confused me and hurt me more, despite her careful choice of words and best intentions.

Perhaps I was asking too much. Perhaps this was not the right friend to confide in. Or perhaps this was just an example of the limitations of human sympathy and understanding. I am starting to realize that situations like these, where a friend unintentionally disappoints me and hurts me, are necessary for me to experience. If there were a person on this earth who could always help me, always sympathize with me, always understand me, why would I need God? I believe God works through people to fulfill his purposes and to help us, but I also think I struggle to rely “just” on God, thinking of him as a secondary source of support. Correct me even in my hurt, God, that I may learn to rely on and trust in you as my primary source of support and understanding. May the words of David be true for us also that we realize you are the one who fully knows us and is always near to help us:

Yahweh, you have searched me,
and you know me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up.
You perceive my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
but, behold, Yahweh, you know it altogether.
You hem me in behind and before.
You laid your hand on me.
This knowledge is beyond me.
It’s lofty.
I can’t attain it.
Where could I go from your Spirit?
Or where could I flee from your presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, you are there.
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, you are there!
If I take the wings of the dawn,
and settle in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there your hand will lead me,
and your right hand will hold me.
(Psalm 139:1–10)

Scripture quoted from the World English Bible. The World English Bible is in the Public Domain. That means that it is not copyrighted. See copyright information here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/World-English-Bible-WEB/#copy.

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Thanks for reading! It's great to hear from you. -J

  1. "...perhaps this was just an example of the limitations of human sympathy and understanding.... If there were a person on this earth who could always help me, always sympathize with me, always understand me, why would I need God?"

    I think you hit the nail on the head, J. This, I think, is profound insight. So, first, let me thank you, because this helps me be a better friend to others. I often have difficulty empathizing/sympathizing with others, because I tend to have a more gruff, shake-it-off kindof attitude in life. Maybe that's the police officer in me.

    Second, it reminds us to depend more on God for day-to-day issues. We live in a wonderful country where we can find "happiness" and solutions to our problems in virtually any place we look, but we forget/neglect our very Creator who, as you pointed out, knows us.

    Well blogged, friend!