Misunderstood? You are not alone

Have you ever been improperly understood or interpreted, misdiagnosed,misrepresented, misjudged, misconceived, and misconstrued? Or have you ever misunderstood someone, something or an event? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are reading the right journal. You would think that misunderstanding is a pretty straightforward thing and that people can be made to understand things better and easily. But if it were so, we wouldn’t have the rate of divorce and fragmented relationships that we have today. I am going to look at this concept from two different viewpoints; a natural and a spiritual viewpoint.

First and foremost, from a natural viewpoint, as humans it is very possible to misunderstand things, people, or to be misunderstood. To be misunderstood means to understand something or someone wrongly, to take (words, statements, etc.) in a wrong sense; understand wrongly, to fail to understand or interpret rightly the words or behaviour of a person. When a misunderstanding occurs and the parties to this are willing to be enlightened, then you have a manageable situation and one that can be easily corrected.

It’s not uncommon for a misunderstood person to be ostracised, mishandled, characterised and stigmatised. This is because what people don’t understand they judge or dismiss. So what are some of the reasons why people/couples misunderstand each other or why anyone is misunderstood? People are misunderstood due to one of the following reasons: communication gap, lack of understanding/knowledge, failure to seek understanding, lack of awareness, self-understanding or insight, confusion or lack of clarity, and perhaps lack of revelation.

Whilst I agree that there are some people we just don’t get but in 9 out of 10 cases, these people can be understood if we took time to do so or if we try to let go of the filters through which we are looking at them. But for the purposes of this journal, I’m not going to focus too much on the person with the little or no understanding but the person who’s misunderstood. When a person is misunderstood, there is a tendency for them to wonder what they are doing wrong. However be encouraged to know that you may not necessarily be doing anything wrong for people to misunderstand or misrepresent you. You may be misjudged because people don’t have an understanding of themselves or of a situation hence they interpret you or some of your behaviours in light of their own flawed vision or opinions. Even the Bible recognises this in Titus 1:15 “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. So stop worrying yourself too much, of course unless you think you may be contributing to the misunderstanding in any way. In some cases, the misunderstanding has little or nothing to do with you, but the person who by the way may be struggling to understand himself or herself!

I have found that it is plain easier to draw conclusions on people or situations rather than seeking understanding. It also is a great way to excuse ignorance. Trust me, I have been there and I know too well what it feels like to be misunderstood but we are not alone. David was misunderstood by Saul, the King. Joseph was misunderstood by his brothers. Even Jesus, the Son of God, was misunderstood by His own people and it may have bothered him a little bit that his own people didn’t get him. What makes me think so? In Matthew 16 vs. 15, Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. He didn’t need to ask considering He knew everything but He asked to know what their perception of Him was.

Despite all the miracles that Jesus did at the time, people still brought accusations against Him, some of which were that: He was possessed by an evil spirit, was a blasphemer, a terrorist and a criminal to cut the list short. Knowing all of these accusations to be untrue, I see the reason why Peter felt the need to defend Jesus during His arrest by cutting off the ear of one of the guards. However Jesus restrained him and healed the guard. Can you ever imagine yourself reacting to people who mistreat, misjudge and mishandle you in such a manner?

We visited a prospective secondary school with my daughter last year and after the visit, we concluded that we didn’t really like the school. To be honest I really can’t say why we didn’t like the school nevertheless we struck it off our list and gave all sorts of excuses such as; “it’s too far” even though we found out later that it isn’t. However we agreed that she would still write the exam to assist her in her preparation. A few months later, she had to go into the school for a day to sit the exams and by the end of that day, her opinion had totally swayed in the complete opposite direction. She now loves this school and would give anything to go there! When I asked her why the sudden change of mind, she stated that she just really didn’t know much about the school at the time and so wasn’t engaged during the tour. I must confess that she’s not the only one in this situation as I found myself also changing my opinion. Simply put, people are fearful of what they don’t understand and unfortunately do sometimes draw inaccurate conclusions.

The second viewpoint that I’d like to explore is the spiritual angle to being misunderstood. In John 8:44, the Bible refers to Satan as a liar and the father of lies. It states that there is no truth in him! As such when the Devil wants to wreak havoc in people’s relationships, marriages and families, he will use lies, conspiracy, gossip and deception. He will distort the truth through people’s minds and sow seeds of lies in them. That is why we need to guard our heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life. Of course, there has to be a good soil already available for these lies to be incubated, watered and fed, as if there is no such thing, it becomes easier to fight off the devil’s suggestions. But often times, people don’t recognise these lies for what they are and they don’t seek understanding. Therefore before they know what’s happening, the Devil would have fed them with all sorts of junk that has the potential to wreck them and their loved ones. What lies have you embraced that is not the truth? To overcome this, you need your mind to be renewed by the word of God. We are to meditate on things that are noble and of good report.

In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter replied to Jesus’ question by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus blessed Peter and told him that flesh and blood did not reveal this to him but His father in heaven. Although It bothers us when people don’t interpret us correctly, when our spouses don’t get us, our friends, colleagues, bosses, and although this can cause us to become angry and give up on people, We must keep believing in ourselves, in the best and allow God to reveal who we are to those people in His own time. We may feel the need to defend ourselves just like Peter did on behalf of Jesus and that would be normal human reaction but this is not always productive. When Jesus was brought before the Governor to state His case and was asked if He was truly the King of the Jews, His affirmation caused an uproar. In effect, they weren’t really expecting him to state His case. I am finding that it is sometimes pointless to try to argue and change people’s minds about you especially if they’ve been lied to and their perspective is flawed. Your doing so will only make things worse. So let it go and let God fight for you. And He always does! But it may not be your way or on your terms.

Therefore take courage if you are a Jesus follower that your perfect example was misunderstood, punished wrongly and mishandled. Yet, He did not react the way you and I would have but He demonstrated patience, love and security in His identity. As a result, He was and is still glorified until now. By all means, protect your heart but do also pray for yourself and for those who misunderstand and misrepresent you, as they need your prayers. After all that’s what Jesus would do.