Being Misunderstood

I was looking back over some of my posts, and I came across one titled, “Misunderstood.” I had written that post a couple of years ago, so I thought I’d revisit it. But as I read, I felt there was more that needed said. So, this is “Misunderstood 2.0.”

We are heading into the year-end holidays and if there is ever a time when we know we will, at some point, be misunderstood, it’s during this time of the year. To set the stage, here is an actual personal experience.

One unusual morning for me, I sat down beside my wife on the edge of our bed, as she was getting dressed, and said, “Good morning.” She was suspicious of my atypical behavior since I am usually up early and busy by the time morning actually occurs. So, she asked warily, “What do you want?!” My random gesture suddenly bloomed into confusion and an issue for us both. Let me hasten to say that we share a wonderful marriage and still love and enjoy each other’s company.

Not being understood has become a national epidemic. So many are so tired of being so misunderstood that it has caused a nation of people that will blow their lids if their fast-food order gets messed up. It has become somewhat unnerving to shop in stores or attend public events because we never know when someone there will reach their boiling point.

The Misunderstood Jesus

Not being understood murders relationships. Being understood sometimes requires us to recognize changes that we are unprepared for. Jesus was very familiar with this problem. Christ’s own mother didn’t understand Jesus, her son. We find this in:

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” And they [Jesus’ parents] did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.

Luke 2:49–50

Now think about this: Jesus is the Word of God John 1:1, yet throughout his earthly ministry, people didn’t understand Him. Even his apostles, with whom He invested so much time and energy, continually didn’t understand Him. We read in Mark 9:32, “But they [the apostles] did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.”

With Jesus as the Word of God, it is our job to learn His language, so we can understand Him. Often, we stumble through passages of the Bible that make no sense to us. Our first reaction is to judge God – hey, you know this is true. We interpret His Scripture using our way of thinking and our language, but we need the Holy Spirit to help us interpret God’s Word.

When we read in Matthew 15:27: She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” It’s easy for us to misunderstand the Word of God. The best approach is to always accept the Scripture as true, and then look it up in at least two commentaries. The mist will rise, and you will find the truth and purpose in those words of God.

The Misunderstood Me

Effective communication is difficult and often requires us to navigate through a minefield knowing one misstep will blow up the whole conversation. To effectively understand someone else requires us to use empathy. We must learn to understand what the other person feels even if we have no clue why they feel that way. And when someone speaks emotionally, we should remember there has already been a whole conversation in their head that we weren’t privy to.

God’s Word says that we should weep with those that weep and rejoice with those that rejoice. Empathy does not mean that we become like the other person, but it does mean that we learn to feel and understand their emotion behind the words they speak. Now you may be thinking, “Great, but what about me?”

Love covers a multitude of sins. If we want to be understood, then we must be listened to. For that, we need to bathe our conversations in love, mercy, grace, and joy. Those aren’t trite words. Seriously, people stop listening when we speak our thoughts “in the negative.” If they don’t listen, then we will be misunderstood.

As you know, being a Christian is a way of life, not some rules to remember. Someday, and it may be soon, we will be giving an account to Jesus for what we did with our life. Let’s all live life to the full in Jesus. That will help to balance our life’s accounting book.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 


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