It doesn’t take much to be misunderstood, does it? Words and body language can really get you into trouble at times, no matter how well-meaning and sincere you are.
One of the most important and peace-giving life lessons that I have experienced taught me to be secure in being misunderstood. It’s going to happen, no matter how careful I am with my words or actions towards others – that’s just life. I’ve learned that I can’t fix every interaction, as much as I would like to do so. I can think of a few experiences in my life when I have tried desperately to work through a misunderstanding but when the other party didn’t want to cooperate, there wasn’t much that I could do. These times have been extremely frustrating but I’ve learned to make peace with reality that in this world, there will be broken relationships…
…but God understands my heart.
I do believe that biblically, I am very responsible for what I say and how I say it – I am not responsible for how someone else receives what I say. However, being someone who is truly interested in communication, I try my best to listen, understand and speak well. I also try “as far as it depends on me, to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12.18 NIV) but the reality is that no matter how carefully I choose my words, they can still be twisted and misunderstood by the time they are filtered and received by others.
Jesus was constantly misunderstood but he didn’t demand to be understood. He provided opportunity for others to understand Him, but he didn’t force it. In the book of John, there’s this ongoing pattern for Jesus to state something, which invariablely was misunderstood, after which he clarified his remark. Even in the last chapter, Jesus had to tell Peter three times to feed His sheep before the apostle realized that Jesus was teaching him that he could demonstrate his love for Him by truly caring for His people.
We have so much to learn from the most misunderstood man in the world.
I will never stop trying to communicate authentically, listen empathetically and understood completely but I know that as long as I choose to be involved with people, misunderstanding is inevitable.
This comic made me chuckle today.