Embrace Understanding to Build Unity and Community

 “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  ~ Steven Covey

We all want to be understood. 
It’s one of our core desires… to be seen, heard, and understood.
I fear, though, too few of us take the time and effort to see, hear, or understand others.

"...get understanding and wisdom at any cost." ~ King Solomon

This is an active pursuit. You have to be willing to let go of some of your own ideas in order to be able to understand others and their ideas.

 How do we step away from our own space and meet others where THEY are?  The last couple of years have been educational for me in this area. I’ve experienced some tough times, and been confronted with some hard truths… and I believe, by God’s grace, have come through it, with a new way of pursuing understanding.

 
Here are three areas on which I focus, to help me grow in understanding.
 
First, I choose to look for the “why” below the surface. 
I look for the spiritual in the ordinary. We are physical, mental, emotional, AND spiritual beings. If we focus only on the first three, we deny our humanness and our ability to comprehensively understand. The first three are helpful in assessing the current situation ~ but the spiritual aspect can lend an explanation to it. Looking for the spiritual side of any given situation, helps bring the whole picture into focus.
 
And just so you know where I’m coming from, I don’t pick apart every moment of every day, but my worldview is based on a Biblical perspective. I see an overarching story of an involved Creator, in relationship with us, working in and through all our decisions, actions, and circumstances, to accomplish an eternal purpose.  
 
Second, I choose to be realistic, and see all the “things”... the good and the bad. 
It’s not in my nature to take in negativity. I don’t watch the news. I don’t think being blasted with everything that has gone wrong today, is the best way to feed my soul or equip me to help others.
 
I do, however, want and need to be aware of how others have different experiences from mine, and how people are hurting as a result of those experiences.  I need to see where we, as a culture, have missed the mark. I must be willing to change my heart and my mind, based on some of that information. I am blessed to have friends who have different and diverse histories, experiences and viewpoints, and they are willing to lovingly share them with me even when we may be on opposite ends of the spectrum on any given topic. 
 
Some of these conversations are extremely difficult.  Most, however, serve to open my eyes and my heart to completely different perspectives and realities.  In order to promote unity and community, though, you have to know what those things are ~ to know where others are coming from. 
 
Third, I choose “panoramic vision.”
I know that wisdom is available from many different sources,and I go out of my way to discover them. I strive to listen well, and seek others' perspectives and celebrate unique viewpoints. This doesn’t mean I abandon my beliefs ~ but when I examine them in the light of others mine will either solidify or fall down. I tell you, doing this for the past two years has done both. I am more solid in my understanding of the Bible and why I believe what I believe ~ yet have found it necessary to step away from what turned out to be a cultural belief system that wasn’t as compatible with Scripture as I’d once believed. 
 
Don’t, for one second, think this process is easy.  Oh, my friend, this is hard! I’ve had to come to grips with things like:
  • Discovering that my pride determined whether or not I wanted to see things from God’s perspective.
  • My comfortable, privileged background provided a huge obstacle when presented with a friend’s entirely different life experience ~ and my heart continues to break over new revelations.
  • Coming to terms with the fact that, while no one is perfect, those I put on a pedestal in my youth never deserved to be there.
 So ~ “Where is the OPTIMISM,” you ask? It’s right here: 

Embracing new depths of understanding

creates unity and builds community. 

 
I am thankful for friends who are willing to stand up and share those stories we need to hear.
 
I’m grateful for my church community, who love and encourage me, lifting me up without always knowing what I may be wrestling with.
 
I’m honored to know you, and be allowed to share my thoughts and opinions in hopes of spreading that spirit of growth.
 
This is one of the ways we build community ~ by holding each other accountable to know and understand one another, in order to foster communication and meet each other’s needs.
Have you joined our Intentional Optimist Facebook Group yet? We are building a global community of women who celebrate the wonder of our beauty and diversity through helping, teaching and mentoring other women. 
 
Are you on the verge of something new or big, and need some help getting there? As a coach, I provide the structure and accountability you need to focus on what’s important and get to that next level. Let’s chat about how I can serve you, as we head into the next, exciting decade.  Contact Me
 
Laughing at the days to come!
 
~Andrea
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There are events in life that define our journey. Once they happen, we begin describing everything else as “before X” or “after X”. For me,it was the day my mother died. Suddenly, I became aware of my own limited timeline. The drive to find my voice, purpose and place became urgent. I dove in, head first, and discovered the desire to help myself fueled a greater desire - to help others. Soon, I stopped defining myself in terms  of roles (wife, mother, manager),  but in terms of qualities: curious, determined, happy, adventurous. I've come to understand, that the qualities that make us who we are, are what we must celebrate. We each have a special purpose, unique perspective, and unlimited potential. Better yet, we can both discover and develop them.   

I do this through speaking, training, coaching and writing -  with a focus on helping women grow into the leaders they truly are. Intentional Optimism is my philosophy of life, and includes these five pillars:

          Optimistic - Hopeful, Positive Proactive

          Present - Seeking Wonder, Generous, Kind

          Courageous – Leading Others, Adventurous, Resilient

          Energetic - Industrious, Excitement, Life-focused

          Wise - In Respect, Words and having Understanding

          Intentional - Purposeful, Planning, Growth Mindset

I'm building a global community of women helping women. A place where we foster leadership from every stage or position in life. A place where we celebrate wonder; move forward with hope and openness; share wisdom and encouragement; offer each other a helping hand; ask freely, and share lavishly; and celebrate our differences as avenues of growth and expansion.

Let’s  change our understanding of what it means to work, provide for our families, have financial stability, and be a leader in the community. Life is an adventure - let's live it to the fullest!  

It’s time to laugh at the days to come! - Prov. 31:25

Won’t you join me on the journey?