I often wonder how many of my intentions and my words are misunderstood. Whether it is through a deliberate “I don’t want to hear that today” or a lack of communication, poor hearing, or my “mumbled” voice, being misunderstood usually has unintended and undesired consequences.
The definition for misunderstanding is “mistake, mix-up, error, confusion and misinterpretation.” None of these are intentional and yet our human instinct is to be hurt, get angry, and to even hold a grudge.
The more we mistrust in a relationship, the more we are misunderstood in that relationship. And we tend to judge with that lack of trust, instead of with the loving heart of God.
Three times in the readings this past weekend we are told to “trust.” We are told that God is in the “whispers” (silence, conscious) of our hearts. And we are told that Jesus is speaking the “truth” (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33).
There is no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation in God’s words. God is clearly present in a whisper to Elijah, as Jesus instructs the Jews and finally when Jesus walks on water for His disciples to prove to all that He is present, real and clearly in charge of our world.
Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” ….but the LORD was not in the wind. …but the LORD was not in the earthquake. …but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak” (1 Kings 19: 11-13a).
In all relationships there are misunderstandings. I find that many of my own misunderstandings come from “mishearing” over a poor phone connection. Stan and I often catch something we “mishear” immediately between us and comment that that is how “rumors start.”
Sadly, in marriage and families I often see misunderstandings which cause a lifetime of hurt, anger, and even divorce or severed relationships between parent and child or siblings.
Most of these misunderstandings happen because we don’t trust each other enough to realize that the misheard words or misinterpreted deeds were not meant in a manner to be unloving. Or the deed is bearing past hurts, anger or frustration. We interpret in human terms, rather than with the eyes of God.
“But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14: 27-31).
In effect, just like the disciples who had difficulty believing Jesus was truly present, just like we look for God in the big rather than the small, just as the disciples didn’t trust Jesus when he walked on water towards them, so do we mistrust and misunderstand the good intentions of the people who love us.
Our pride and our anger block out the love that is God’s gift to each of us. Our pride and anger allow us to build on our misunderstandings, rather than to search for and trust in the truth of love.
And we forget to say “I’m sorry” regularly and “I forgive you” in response.
Our misunderstandings become like a cancer – large enough to erode or kill the entire relationship. May you be blessed with the gift of the truth of an understanding heart.
Heavenly Father: You sent Your son to earth to lead us by example. Help us to have hearts which trust that you are always present, ears which hear your whispers in the silence and hands stretched out to help others walk on water in trust. Help me to forgive unconditionally. Thank You for the gift of all those who love me. Amen.