Have you every been misunderstood?
Have you ever gone along with it just because it's easier to let someone believe a falsehood than it is to change their mind?
One time I made a comment to a friend about how I would not show violent films to his kids while they were in my house. I knew it was an issue for him. I was being earnest. He thought I was being bratty. He made a joke of it.
I tried to tell him I was being sensitive, yet he firmly held the belief that I was bratty. To convince him otherwise fell on deaf ears. So, it was easier for me to let him think I was being a bratty sister in Christ rather than try to persuade him that I really cared about his beliefs.
That happens to me all the time. Not just every so often, but I would say about ONCE A DAY. Regularly.
Today the sermon touched on Jesus' teaching that we need to make things right with people who are angry with us, regardless of...anything. If someone is angry with you, you have a duty to make it right.
Tough concept. Tougher implementation.
I have this friend who thinks I'm probably the rudest person on the planet. We don't speak anymore because he and his family went to another church and are in a different Life Group, and run in different circles. Not a blowout, no angry words or last goodbyes. Just welcomed distance.
He thinks I'm the rudest person on the planet because every time we get together I do something that annoys him. I interrupted his conversation. I didn't say please. I didn't thank him. There's a hundred different things I didn't do. And he noted every one of them. And, as I noticed that this was going on, I couldn't stop it.
I wanted to, mind you. I wanted to show him that I'm a grateful person. That I have manners. That I love him and his wife. That I can be decent.
But, it was like I was jinxed. Seriously, I couldn't act normal around him. I can give you excuses; hard, credible, completely understandable excuses as to why I interrupted his conversation, why I didn't say please, and why I forgot to thank him. I have valid excuses that any normal person would comprehend. But, excuses are pointless.
Have you ever felt like that? Like there's a wall up around someone and no matter what you do, you can't break in? Everything welcoming gesture you make will be defeated. Every movement you take will be misinterpreted. They won't know the depth of your heart, or your caring toward them. They won't see your gentle soul, and the warm and tender heart within. They won't see you as anything except what they suppose you to be, some shell of a character like a spoiled brat, an ungrateful woman, a greedy child. Those are nothing your heart holds, yet it's all they see.
I wrote about a fictional business on my blog and I hurt a lot a people. (To tell you the truth, I didn't know anyone but a handful of peeps read my blog.) Some were hurt just a little, and some very deeply. That's a bad result of getting on your soapbox with your righteousness and anger in full frontal display and your facts shaky or mismatched at best. I was talking about one business I love, and another business I'm glad to be away from, and another that I'm ambivalent about.
And, I was trying to do what? I don't know. Not hurt people, that's for sure. Yet, that's all I did.
I liken it to having a small trickle of water coming into a dark, stone cell, and weeping bitterly about only getting a trickle, then having the trickle dry up. I weep for wanting the trickle of water that I wept over because it was just a trickle.
And, I won't delete my words from my blog. That's cowardly. That's hiding in the shadows. If I said it, I need to live with it. Even though it brought me pain and distance from people I love. So, I email the people who contacted me and explain what I meant and it's all over. It's done.
But, it's not. They hurt, and I hurt that they hurt, and I hurt that I'm once again misunderstood.
I've gotten so used to being misunderstood that I've also gotten lazy about dealing with it. I simply let it go, and hope I can move on, or have another chance, or best of all, rely on their faith to make them give me compassion and grace. Talk about hypocrisy on my part!! Using God's directive to my advantage so I don't have to dive into difficult conversations or convince people their beliefs are incorrect. That's difficult, exhausting work. You have to stay vigilant and on your guard. You have to stay present and focused.
I can just let it go because I know the truth. I know the goodness in my own heart. Even if it's not seen by another. "Let them think what they will," I say, "it's not my fault!"
The words of Jesus tell me that I hold responsibility even when I'm not at fault.
Matthew 5:23-24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift."
Your brother has something against you. Not: if you ticked off your brother. Not: if you did something wrong, go fix it. Not: if you had a good excuse, then you don't have to go. No, no, no.
It says, if he has something against you.
So, now a LIFETIME of being misunderstood must be stopped. I have been directed to stop it.
That's huge. I've spent my life being hurt by people who don't understand me, but letting it go because it's not my problem. It's theirs. But, Jesus says it IS my problem. Whoa. This is HUGE, indeed!
Now I have to begin...this moment. And, I have to figure out how to take out this thorn that has been bitterly uncomfortable, yet has been something to which I've grown accustomed.