Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

God Understands Us Best

By Maria Sermersheim
Maria Sermersheim

Sometimes, we can feel desperate in our attempts to be understood. Our various methods of communication are shallow when we need depth. Our deepest desires are to be known and loved, so a lack of effective communication makes us feel isolated. Our words are hapless attempts to translate our thoughts and feelings; and even at their best, they make these sentiments only "approximately comprehensible to others" (Ratzinger). This barrier seriously strains our relationships. In our habitual underestimation of God, we project these same limitations onto the Creator of the universe, so prayer is no refuge, either. It becomes yet another conversation constricted by vocabulary and perspective. In this dreary picture, no one will ever be fully known or understood, and we are all sentenced to life in the solitary confinement of our own hearts. 

C.S. Lewis recognizes this despair of so many souls in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. His description of the Christ-like figure Aslan feels like nestling into a warm embrace: "His voice was deep and rich and somehow took the fidgets out of them. They now felt glad and quiet and it didn't seem awkward to them to stand and say nothing … [she] felt sure that she need say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking." Communication was not a struggle! There was no barrier to an authentic relationship and genuine understanding. C.S. Lewis's extraordinary insights into the presence of God illuminates a whole new dimension of prayer. God knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves. As St. Augustine writes, "At the heart of man is the ear of God … so God’s ear hears the heart's voice. God hears many of those whose mouths are closed." Prayer can and should be a refuge of comfortable silence. We should be incredibly consoled that God knows us entirely, for some of the best moments in life include comfortable silence with close friends.

We must not unrealistically expect our fellow man to understand us as entirely as God does — to make such a demand would guarantee disappointment. But we are not condemned to lives of loneliness. God knows and understands each of us, down to every quirk and quality. We can rest in the security of his love and understanding, and by his grace, we can communicate better with those around us, too. In our endeavors to love one another as Christ loves us, we can intentionally communicate more clearly and cultivate stronger relationships. We can have realistic expectations and be considerate of unspoken depth. Above all, we can remember that God alone satisfies, and his satisfaction infinitely exceeds “good communication.”