There is no pain like it. Like being misunderstood.
Whether it is something you said or something you did, when you know that you know that you know you meant it one way, but it was received another – yikes. And when you try to explain to bring understanding, try to make it right and are brushed off, a refusal to accept the peaceful-truth, but rather your contribution is thought to have been a purposeful, mean-spirited aggression – nothing is more baffling and disconcerting than that.
Your breath catches in your chest, your mind scrambles to find the words to right the situation, your brain madly searches for the fix-this-now button, you wish you could back up 10 seconds, 20 seconds, 3 months… oh no – that is not what I meant…But being misunderstood is like a magnetic force pulling offense from you and barrelling through your heart like a locomotive.
If some one could track your brain wave when it happens, it would be calculating data at warp speed.
Part of the problem is that you might even find, as you assess the situation, that your delivery, or opinion or the words you chose or your actions were in fact, offensive or painful to some one, even if it was not actually what you meant to do or say or imply or communicate. We have to be real with ourselves, too. But even then, to be mis-read, to be mis-heard, mis-understood, it is baffling, slowly-mysteriously awful, a grieviously slow draining.
You cannot demand to be understood.
There are also the times it feels unbelieveably shocking – like the rug was just pulled out from under you. There are times you know what you presented and what was taken are two totally different things, when you absolutely said, with complete harmlessness in your heart what you meant and it gets batted back with a ferocity that takes you by shocking surprise. Sometimes you feel certain you really were not in the wrong and your explanations are rejected and you wish some one, just anyone, would see and hear and understand and relieve you of the inpenatrible fault that has been wrapped around you like a straight jacket reinforced with duct tape.
You wish you could get free, explain, make it right. You wish you could somehow escape —- and then, yes, sometimes you just wish you could be vindicated.
Vindicate me, Lord…
The hope for us is God sees. He sees and He hears. He knows our hearts. He searches us (be sure to invite this like David did in Psalms 139, verses 23-24):
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Is there any offensive way in me, not some one else – in me?
But vindication from God doesn’t happen like a Lifetime movie scene. An offended antagonist doesn’t walk in to a a roomful of people and announce, “You know – I really took that wrong and super-imposed my own issues onto you and treated you badly. I can totally see your viewpoint now. You were absolutely right. It just took a few minutes of prayer and Bible reading for me to realize how right you were.” Music swells. You give each other a knowing look. Camera pans back and up to reveal green grass, blue skies and a sunny day. Peace. **Deep happy sigh.
No – vindication is slow in coming and it has to come from God or it won’t matter anyway. Here is a little biblical activity to do while you wait from 1 Peter 5:6: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”
But what the heck is due time? What if it isn’t until heaven??? Brace yourself, because there are no guarantees it will be before then.
There are things and times and places and realtionships that I have watched fall under the weight of mis-understanding (understanding could have been there, should have been there) and years later, the chasm remains. The ill-thoughts, the super-imposed wrong lingers in the air causing spiritual asthma, draining life and joy and energy from lack of holy oxygen between brothers. Holding on to the dogged end: I do know what you meant, despite any evidence to the contrary, misunderstanding is one the strongest, most deadly, most heart-wringing states of being.
Will you clear my name now, Lord? Will You bring relief? Will you prove I was right? Will you restore our relationship? Is healing in the here and now even remotely possible?
Or will You let it stand, perhaps making me more conscientious about how I present in all things future? Will You ask me to grow in my understanding with others and be a little less quick to assume their positions? Do You want something deeper in me to be more like You? Will You ask me to carry the cross of being misunderstood like Jesus did – He, misunderstood and contradicted (like the pain of a sword being thrust through):
In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him…Simeon took [Jesus] into his arms…
…Simeon went on to bless them (Mary and Joseph and Jesus], and said to Mary his mother,
This child marks both the failure and
the recovery of many in Israel,
A figure misunderstood and contradicted—
the pain of a sword-thrust through you—
But the rejection will force honesty,
as God reveals who they really are.
Luke 2.32-34 The Message
My plea: Help me, God, to understand. Please let my words and heart be understood and seen. But in rejection, should it happen, may I face the difficult-but-honest things exposed in me and find You, there searching me, revealing me, the one You created me to be.