When You’re Misunderstood {And There’s Nothing You Can Do}

It’s hard to be a lover of beauty and creating and things of the soul and be misunderstood by other human beings. I mean, just because someone isn’t artsy doesn’t mean they don’t have a soul; technically, aren’t we all soulful in some way?

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

But in spite of this, other people can seem like another species, whether it’s people you’re related to or someone you work with or even a friend. Maybe someone has misunderstood a dream that breaks your heart with its bigness, or maybe they misunderstood comments you’ve made, or a text you sent. (As far as communication goes, texting can really be the worst.) 

Sometimes, I think there are seasons of misunderstanding, or being misunderstood… or both. Where is the grace? It’s tempting to ask, brandishing a fist at the world. I think it’s a good question, especially as members of the body of Christ. How do we have grace with each other, no matter who is doing the misunderstanding?

Ecclesiastes 7:20-22 says,

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

Do not pay attention to every word people say,

    or you may hear your servant cursing you—

for you know in your heart
    that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Sometimes, we hear other people’s words, and we store them up in our heart and let them define us. At least, I do.

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

But they don’t define us. Neither does a perception someone has or even a lot of people. Even if we do something wrong, that doesn’t define us either.

We are defined as children of God. That’s where the grace is. Or rather, He is where the grace is. God is there, clothing us in redemption, and clothing others in it, too. Even those who misunderstand and hurt us (intentionally or otherwise). 

It still stings when they do. It’s not easy to just respond from a place of grace all the time (especially if it’s someone who just pushes your buttons, right?) But I’ve found that if- at the very least- I can catch myself before my blood hits boiling point, that I can coach myself to remember Christ. Oh yeah- and those redemption clothes I mentioned.

Where is the grace? It comes from God- and now because of Christ, it comes from me too. You know- theoretically. But perspective makes all the difference. Often, we have to fight for it.

So, here’s some perspective for you:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2: 1-11

You know what gets me about that section in Philippians 2? The part where it says, “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” My first instinct is, “Yes. That’s a good thing. Loving and serving others. Totally.” But my second is, “Wait, what? Even that person who has contributed nothing but stress, drama, angst, and tears to my life for months? Years?? Value them as better than myself????”

To which Jesus says, “Yes.” And that’s all he has to say. Because he has the authority to say it. If we are in Christ, then we are children of God, and therefore we are on level ground, because we are all his sons and daughters. So, I must give grace to Thorn-in-my-Side, because before the Lord their name is Child. And so is mine.

Photography credit: Kara Cline Photography

If you’re finding yourself in a conversation, a relationship, or a whole season of just being plain misunderstood, may this encourage you to settle into the good garments of grace- given through Jesus, who- to put it mildly- knows what it’s like to be misunderstood.




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