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Learning to Relate

A friend and I were talking about growing up in the United States that no one knows about. Of being different because of our clothes, our hairstyles, of not knowing pop culture because tv and music because were forbidden, of having strange dating and marriage expectations that set us aside from most other students in the U.S. Of knowing that both of us must still work hard to learn and understand pop culture references, and that we can more easily bake bread from scratch than we can dance the hottest moves from our graduating year. There is a beautiful sweetness in sitting with someone who experienced the same feelings of hidden isolation that no one around us can see, of no explanation necessary, of just relating.

As sweet and refreshing as this moment of relating is, I don’t believe I am limited to this kind of connection with only the very few who grew up the way I did. In Better Understanding (October 22, 2021), I talked about a kind of understanding that goes beyond shared experiences. It’s an understanding that connects with the shared feelings of isolation, regardless of how that isolation came to existence. The work of coming to this understanding is relating well with one another.

For my friend and I, our shared background gives us a foundation for those “Yes, that is exactly how I felt” moments. For others, I must dig a bit more. With more widely varying backgrounds or experiences, I may not readily see the shared emotional experiences. However, the universal human experience is one of joy and pain, hope and disappointment, loss and growth, freedom and restraint, newness and aging. Riches and privelege don’t save someone from pain, disappointment, and restriction. Freedom and growth are still experienced amid poverty and discrimination. You might be asking how on earth a person who can pay for any service could experience restriction? Or how can there be a feeling of freedom when all of society restricts whom and what you can become? Those are the best questions you could possibly be asking!

“Yes, I’m having such a hard time understanding your feelings of isolation! I would love to hear more about what you experience, and how it makes you feel isolated.” Armed with this mentality, you have begun the work it takes to relate to another. And slowly, this intentional relating will form the deepest kind of understanding. An understanding that leads to oneness, an understanding of unique displays of our shared humanity.


Photo Credit: liwordson,

We are aware of the magnitude of this subject matter and the inadequate brevity of this post. For more, please reference our podcasts, our 1Community groups, or feel free to email us at

We also wish to address our inability to consider issues of sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse in our discussions on developing understanding and oneness. If you are in an abusive situation of any kind, we encourage you to seek professional and other help; and to realize that this content does not necessarily apply to your circumstances.

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