You thought your intentions would be obvious, and you found out you’ve been misunderstood. What a frustrating situation! You meant one thing, she thought the other. You were trying to help, he thought you doubted his competency. You thought you were being funny, he felt judged. Oliver Gaspirtz said, “Communication is always just an approximation.”
And you feel desperate to explain yourself.
Misunderstanding is unfortunately a regular occurrence, and it is a sword that cuts both ways. Sometimes I don’t get you and you don’t get me. Sometimes we can sort it out, sometimes we can’t. Sometimes the stakes are higher than at other times.
Jesus was no stranger to misunderstanding as we can see from reading the gospels. His interpreters and followers haven’t had an easy time understanding him either. And obviously we have a hard time understanding each other’s take on what Jesus meant when he said, “Follow me.” Maybe that is why the Christian message is often reduced to bumper sticker mantras. “Jesus is awesome!” “Jesus is the way!” “Know Jesus, know peace,” and so forth. Those words sound OK, but they don’t help us figure out what to do in the chaos of life.
And even when we try to live out what we’ve figured out, sometimes we are misunderstood. And that can feel so bad that we want to give up on the relationship, the cause, or the struggle.
But let’s don’t give up! Let’s get together Sunday and encourage each other to keep going. Misunderstanding is inevitable, but giving up doesn’t have to be.