The Power of Understanding
The sight of wipers flinging rain off my windshield was a forgotten experience. Rain was so rare in San Diego that it brought a sense of escape from reality with it as I made my way through the gloomy morning prior to sunrise.
As was my routine in the first year of my personal transformation from drugs and alcohol I was on my way to a 7 AM meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. My alarm and the anticipated excitement of the day pulled me out of bed every morning around 5 AM. I would pray and read and get out the door fully expecting to experience and share the goodness that life possessed.
Like clockwork I had made my morning pit stop to pick up coffee and I pulled back on the Pacific Coast Highway business as usual. An upcoming red light started the chain reaction of my foot easing onto the breaks. This approaching pause was about to deposit a life altering substance with it, but if asked to guess what was about to happen to me a million different responses would not have produced an accurate answer.
The steady rain came with a comfortable mood as I came to a stop next to a school bus. I glanced over and my eyes began to scan down the windows of the bus. Instantly my eyes locked on a boy of roughly 10 yrs old.
This boy carried a look of deep pain. It wasn’t a look of, “I’m still trying to wake up.” It was a look of pain that had settled in the core of his being.
It was clear that he was carrying a measure of pain beyond his ability to shoulder. It was then that a life changing spiritual experience opened up to me like a movie scene.
My mind instantly vacated my rain covered car and went through a series of thoughts and images. What if he is terminally sick, what if he hasn’t eaten in 2 days, what if he watches his parents drinking and doing drugs in front of him, what if his sister recently died, and the list went on.
In the middle of this encounter I heard an internal audible voice, “Stop pretending like you know what people are going through and try to understand and love them.” God had clearly granted me a snap shot of an eternal reality and perspective.
This encounter seemed like it was 5 mins while simultaneously seeming like it was 5 seconds. Just as quickly as this supernatural encounter with God began I was back in my car holding my coffee and the light turned green.
Surprisingly this grace full new insight came with the power to carry it out. In the days following I found myself wanting to know the detail of peoples lives more then ever. I would ask questions and listen like I never had before. I wanted to help.
Roughly 9 yrs later I have heard hundreds of stories of how people reached “rock bottom”. Now, the idea of assuming I know why people are the way they are sickens me.
I’ve listened to stories of how horrific upbringings ushered some confused children into 10 yr heroin addictions. I have heard the torment and abuse that some teenagers couldn’t escape and the pain of keeping it a secret. I have been trusted enough by many of those pain filled souls to hear them elaborate on how they concluded that enough drinking and drugs would numb the excruciating emotional and internal pain.
That rainy San Diego morning in my car on the Pacific Coast Highway opened an eternal door and pulled me into a journey of understanding. This God given invitation opened my heart and eyes into seeking to understand while simultaneously hoping to eradicate my limited perspective from the poison of judgement.
I have seen first hand the effectiveness that love and understanding possess. I have watched countless times as love and understanding have destroyed the walls of defense that pain riddled hearts have fortified themselves behind.
Today, I still seek to understand. Love and understanding bring healing while judgement creates separation and isolation.
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