What to do when you're misunderstood
Have you ever been misunderstood? My assumption is yes. Of course. If you have had any contact with another human in the past 48 hours, most likely you have been misunderstood.
When someone misunderstands our heart or character, it can hurt. We've all been the person to misinterpret someone else's words, make assumptions or be quick to judge another person. We’re all flawed and have failed in this aspect. But, when you're on the receiving end of those judgments and assumptions, it can be a sharp tool to the heart.
What are we to do? We live in a world where we WILL be misunderstood. We will be in scenarios where we won't be able to defend ourselves and our character. If we wont be able to defend ourselves, then who will defend us?
I'm writing this blog today because recently I was misunderstood in a way that really hurt me. It was from a person who doesn't even know me, but in 5 minutes they made assumptions about my life that I couldn't defend. I tried to brush it off, pretending like it didn’t bother me (like that does any good.) But I finally just voiced the hurt to God. As I asked Him what to do and why it hurt me so much, Hebrews 4:15 came to mind:
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin."
I'm my hurt, anger, and frustration, I was reminded of this- even Jesus was misunderstood.
During Jesus' lifetime on earth, He was probably the most misunderstood man to ever walk the planet.
Just think about it for a second...
Jesus was sent from His Father in heaven. He only did what the Father told Him to do, and said what the Father told Him to say. He had an intense mission of bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth, showing what it truly meant to know God, and reconciling a lost world to the Creator’s heart. He called God "His Father in heaven", which really confused and upset some people. Up until Jesus started His ministry, no one ever called God "Father". Not only that but Jesus called Himself, "Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Light of the world, etc... remember- He only said what He heard the Father say.... could you imagine the types of looks and misunderstandings that came Christ's way by doing what God called Him to do? Could you imagine the amount of people who made assumptions or judgments about Him?
Think back to the story of Jesus when He was a little boy. He was in the temple, asking questions and talking about God to the teachers in the room. His parents were heading back home after a festival when they finally realized Jesus wasn’t with them. Once they returned to where He was, the bible says this:
“When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.” Luke 2:48-50
Ha! Could you imagine your young son telling you this? Talk about being misunderstood- needless to say Mary and Joseph we’re quite confused. Could you imagine the looks Jesus received, even from His own parents?
How about the Pharisees? Not only did they misunderstand Him, but they ended up hating Him due to those misunderstandings.
Even His own disciples misunderstood Him countless times, even after doing life with Him and following Him for days on end.
Jesus was misunderstood all the time while He was doing the Father's will. Despite those misunderstandings, He still stayed his course, not letting the opinions or rejections of others derail Him.
So my next question is this- How did Jesus stay the course, regardless of the misunderstandings, assumptions, and judgments?
Yes, He was perfect. Yes He was the Son of God. But there’s another key that I believe really helped Him:
He knew who He was.
Jesus was rock solid in His identity and in the mission of God. He knew He was the Son of God. He knew God had His back as His Father. He knew who He belonged to. He knew who's voice and opinion mattered the most. His Father dictated everything about Him.
The mission God had Jesus on was going to require Him not being derailed by other voices. Jesus had a job to do and He knew it.
My question for us is, do we have this same confidence in our Father? Are we allowing God’s voice and opinion of us be the ultimate authority in our lives? Are we so focused on the mission God has for us that when other voices rise up, they are only whispers in comparison to the voice of our Father in heaven?
If we allow others judgments and assumptions have the highest authority in our life, we will live and die by their approval. We will always be on edge, ready to defend ourselves at any given moment, not resting in the Father’s love for us.
If we try to constantly defend ourselves, we will ultimately run out of breathe and we will be exhausted by our efforts. How much more freeing would it be if we just knew what the God of the universe said about us, and we recognized that if God loves me, then what do other opinions matter?
My prayer for you and I is that we would be so wrapped in the Fathers love, that we hear His voice above all the lies. When people do make their judgments, we will have the wisdom on how (or how not) to respond. In all ways, even when we’re hurt, we will continue to show grace and peace to everyone we encounter. That we would be so rooted and grounded in God’s love for us, that people may say their remarks, but it won’t define me because God’s truth has already been written on my heart.
“Oh Father, saturate our hearts with your love so we can be love to those around us. Let your voice be the loudest so we don’t seek approval or allow the rejections of others tear us down. Guard our heart and mind in Your word, and lead us down the mission you have for us.”