“Perhaps one did not want to be loved so much as to be understood.” – George Orwell
As someone who has battled severe anxiety for much of my life, I have often wished for friends who understood me, not just friends who loved me. Don’t get me wrong; we all need to be loved. Yet, there is a power and an intimacy in someone saying, “You’re alright. I understand.”
So often, when someone is suffering, we like to remind that person that they are loved. I think that is absolutely incredible! But what if we began sharing the weight of the brokenness, carrying each other through the broken seasons?
You might say, “Andrew, that sounds nice, but I don’t know what it’s like to suffer from anxiety, addiction, loss, or depression.”
Do you know what it is to feel pain?
Have you ever had your heart broken?
Have you ever felt rejected?
If so, then you can understand anyone in any season, regardless of whether or not you can understand their exact form of suffering. Understanding the pain within someone else does not require your own experiences to be identical.
I used to join a Celebrate Recovery group in LA. My friends were recovering drug addicts, porn addicts, alcoholics, and a myriad of broken men trying to find healing. They were my family and I was theirs. And what of me? I was their token fear addict, broken by years of suffering with anxiety in silence.
That group of men taught me something: we can all understand AND love one another in our brokenness, even when our battles look nothing alike.
In case you feel completely isolated, know this: you are not alone in your suffering. Maybe you feel that way, but there are many people who understand you and who are out there. Trust me, those relationships will come in time.
Do you have friends who are suffering, yet you don’t know how to help them? What if you chose to sit with them and simply say, “I understand”?
If you are suffering, I encourage you to seek the right help from those who can be vulnerable and authentic with you. You deserve true intimacy with others.
You are never truly alone, nor are you misunderstood. Don’t give up hope. There will come a day that you meet the people who remind you that you’re simply human, not a freak. Until then, believe it within your heart.