When Others Misunderstand You

protest

I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answered. On the other end was an official. She spent several minutes insinuating something about me that was untrue. It really bothered me. More than I care to admit (although I’m writing it here, so you know how it niggled me.)

Later it occurred to me that this woman and her words rattled something deeper than a simple bureaucratic manner. It rattled my heart. Why?

Because I value integrity. I value doing the right thing, even when no one’s watching. I have a healthy fear of wrongdoing, and I’m passionate about being a good citizen, law abider, friend, worker.

The insinuations reminded me of another time when a friend completely misread my heart. The repercussions of her words still hurt. Deep. There are nights I have dreams about her and wake up afraid. In the melee, I realized quickly that I could say not-one-thing that would convince her of my heart or show her my innocence. So I stopped talking, trying to convince her of my innocence. I cried instead. I gave my reputation to Jesus to manage, as I’m not so great at doing that task. I remember the release I felt when I realized this truth about God: He sees.

He sees my heart. He sees my motives (and there are plenty of impure ones mixed together in a jumble of confusion and integrity). He sees the bureaucrat’s heart. He discerns my friend’s heart. He knows my desires. It’s completely freeing to know that even if someone else doesn’t believe me, I don’t need to “protesteth too much.” I can rest. God sees. He knows. He rewards those who are faithful in little.

It also reminds me not to be so quick to pass judgment on someone’s motives or heart, not to accuse blindly, not to jump to conclusions without patiently listening and asking questions, not to jump to bitterness before I have a chance to exercise forgiveness. Bitterness, if I let it take root, does one awful thing. It makes me blind to the heart of another. It assigns negative intent to that person. It only sees the bad, oblivious to the good.

There have been far too many times in my life when I’ve listened to gossip about someone else. If that’s the first thing I hear about him/her, it forever colors my view. The older and wiser I get, the less I give weight to the first thing I hear. I try to meet people fresh, try to draw them out and discover their heart. Not always, but I try.

Because I know how painful it is to be misunderstood.

I thank Jesus, though, that He truly understands what it’s like to be misunderstood, to be insinuated against, to be judged wrongly. Consider this from John 2:24-25: “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”

He let God the Father hold His reputation. He understood the fickleness of the crowds. He felt the weight of their judgments, which ultimately led to His death.

So if you’re in that place where others are insinuating, press into Jesus. Give Him your worries and fears. He can shoulder such things. He understands. I do, too.

When has someone misunderstood your heart? How did that make you feel? Did you try to clear the air? Did it work?

He already has.

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