You may or may not believe it, but when I was younger, I was intensely shy. Intensely. In fact, I was so shy that I rarely spoke except to my brothers and parents. I remember more than one occasion where my timidity was severely misunderstood. One day in particular when I was about 11 or 12, I will never forget.
My mother came up to my room to talk to me. I can't recall her exact words or how she brought up the topic, but she told me that one of our neighbors, a good friend of the family, thought that I didn't like him and that I was snobby. I burst into tears. It was terribly frustrating to be so severely mistaken. Snobby? I have my character flaws, but snobbiness has never been one of them, and it truly was a deep blow to my sensitive soul.
I very strongly dislike the emotions that misunderstanding brings up for me. In fact, I might argue that for me, being misunderstood is one of the most wounding circumstances. I've tried to figure out why, and I can think of two main reasons. The first is that I care, possibly entirely too much, what others' opinions of me are, and when others misunderstand me, I feel as if I've somehow failed at representing myself. The second is that feeling misunderstood creates a feeling of deep aloneness.
Jesus, better than any man, understands the deep wounds of misunderstanding. I was reminded of that this morning in my devotions. In Desire of Ages, Ellen White says this of Jesus when beginning his ministry:
"Though He was the Prince of Peace, His coming must be as the unsheathing of a sword. The kingdom He had come to establish was the opposite of that which the Jews desired. He who was the foundation of the ritual and economy of Israel would be looked upon as its enemy and destroyer. He who had proclaimed the law upon Sinai would be condemned as a transgressor. He who had come to break the power of Satan would be denounced as Beelzebub. No one upon earth had understood Him, and during His ministry He must still walk alone. Throughout His life His mother and His brothers did not comprehend His mission. Even His disciples did not understand Him. He had dwelt in eternal light, as one with God, but His life on earth must be spent in solitude." (111)
God the Father, too, has long borne with the hurt of misunderstanding. Satan has done everything in his power to create a false picture of God, and the world at large has accepted that image. Everything that God is not-- cruel, unforgiving, heartless-- Satan has widely succeeded in convincing men that He is. I cannot begin to fathom the deep agony that the great deception of men has caused God. And yet He bears it, and bears it long, that one day His character may be revealed in truth and light to all. And one day, all creation will acknowledge the true face of God; His character will be vindicated.
I just pray that until that day God will give me the strength and will to represent His character well before the world that I come into contact with. Because it pains me to think that I am often the cause of some of that pain of misunderstanding to God.