Misunderstandings are a part of life. Sometimes, it can be hilariously funny and other times, it can be absolutely maddening! When it’s funny, you can laugh and move on. When it’s more serious, it can cause a myriad of problems.
I remember the time my daughter misunderstood how to pronounce a word and the laugh I got out of my husband’s reaction. She was in third grade. She had been up at the dinner table doing her science homework, while I was cooking dinner. My husband was sitting on the couch watching television. I hear her voice, “Daddy?” My husband replies, “Yes Baby?” Then the dreadful question… “How do you spell orgasm? He shot up from the couch so fast, I think it scared her. He started looking at me, then at her, and back at me. He had no idea what he was supposed to say or do. In one of my calmer, more patient moments, I pulled him out of his shock by asking our daughter, “Are you doing science homework?” She replied, “Yes ma’am.” I asked her if she was sure that was the word she was trying to spell. “No, not orgasm, I meant orgism.” We eventually figured out she was trying to spell organism. Well, I kind of knew from the beginning, but it was fun to watch my husband try to figure it out; and the relief on his face when he realized his innocent, little princess had no idea what an orgasm was! I laughed about that for weeks. I still laugh when I think about it now!
Unfortunately, like I said, not all misunderstandings are a funny matter; but they happen often. We are human and there are going to be times we make mistakes and we struggle with how to correct them. We can say or do something and another person can misinterpret the situation. People have personalities, they have attitudes, different moods; you get the point. Put a group of them together and anything can happen. Thoughts and opinions are thrown out among a few and people are offended. Next thing you know, the offended party goes to someone else in the group privately and shares their feelings. That person shares with another and so on. Next thing you know, things have snowballed into an unmanageable situation riddled with tension and hard feelings.
How do you stop that from happening? In Matthew 18:15, the Bible says, “If your brother sins against you; go and confront him privately. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” The problem is, for one reason or another, we do not go directly to our brother; instead, we tend to share with others. And in most cases, that’s a disastrous mistake. Things get blown out of proportion, more feelings get hurt and before you know it, you have no idea how to stop the mounting problems that have developed.
I can honestly say that I’ve been guilty of this myself. Why not just go to the person you are having issues with? Communicate your feelings to the person that has upset you or hurt you. I’d have to say that, for a lot of people, it’s just plain fear. They fear hurting the person’s feelings. They fear rejection or retribution by the other person. Why can’t we get over that fear?
If you are on the listening end of things, say someone comes to you and tells you that someone else upset them, try to encourage them to go directly to that person. Let them know that it can prevent mounting problems if they just settle it privately. You can be a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear, but in the long run, you cannot solve their problems for them.
As a listener, it’s also important to remember the difference between gossip and concern. Gossip is a casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true. Discussing someone’s issues out of concern is basically trying to find ways to help them with a particular situation. If you know someone is gossiping, you can shut them down through several methods. You could suggest that you are concerned and want to speak directly to the person being talked about. You could advise the person gossiping to talk to the other person. This will help prevent more ill intent.
It’s easy to get caught up in drama and hard to remove yourself from the situation. It makes it easier if you keep your eyes on God. Ask yourself, what would Jesus do? God loves us and wants good things for us. He wants good things for us, even when we don’t deserve it. He commands us to love everyone the way that Jesus loves us. Although that can often be difficult, it’s something we all should strive for. I know I’m planning to try harder!