Through a blur of tears I studied the message, confused by the words it contained.
For years I’d served in a lovely women’s group and, sadly, a newer member of the group had mistaken something I’d said and filed a complaint. Instantly, the angst of misunderstanding upset my peace as I realized I’d been inaccurately accused.
In hindsight, I should have recognized the potential for misunderstanding, yet I hadn’t considered how my words might come across as critical.
Feeling discouraged, I called a trusted friend who prayed with me and listened to my heart pour out in tears. Afterward I did my best to resolve the misunderstanding and everyone moved on. Yet, a restless tension lingered heavy in my spirit.
You see, one of my greatest fears is the fear of being misunderstood. All my life I’ve longed for others to presume the best in me, not assume the worst. And I’m painfully aware that I make my share of inaccurate assumptions, as well.
The misunderstanding that day happened years ago, yet I wish I could say I’m currently cured of my fear of misunderstanding. But, all too often, I’m still fighting for freedom in this struggle; still laying this fear at the feet of Jesus again and again.
Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ mother, Mary, and how she must have felt when the angel of the Lord told her that she, a seemingly ordinary young virgin, would be the mother of the Savior. (Luke 1: 26-38)
As the awe of this message sank in, I wonder what concerns Mary may have had about being misunderstood. An engaged young woman, now supernaturally pregnant?
As her community anticipated the Messiah’s arrival in unmistakable grandeur, Mary held the promise of the Savior in her womb. Despite how she might explain her growing belly, if I were Mary, the fear of being misunderstood would make my shortlist of concerns.
Yet, I’m touched by Mary’s ultimate acceptance: “I am the Lord’s servant,” she said. (Luke 1:38) Though her situation might appear amiss to others, Mary knew she was understood by God and made herself available to Him.
After receiving this news from the angel, Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with a son who would grow up to become known as John the Baptist. Upon hearing Mary’s greeting, John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, and Elizabeth, suddenly filled with the Holy Spirit, enthusiastically blessed Mary, affirming her as mother of the Savior. (Luke 1:39-44)
What a gift it must have been for Mary to feel understood. Yet, Mary’s response wasn’t to brainstorm with Elizabeth about how she might explain her situation to others. Rather, Mary’s response was one of worship: My soul magnifies the Lord, she declared. (Luke 1:46)
Mary’s peace didn’t rest in the perceptions of others. Rather than focusing on the outward appearance of her situation, Mary focused on the inward presence of her Savior.
Oh, to follow Mary’s example—so focused on God that our worship of the Lord replaces our longing for understanding from the world.
Lasting peace can’t be found in the perceptions of others. Most days we’re all just doing the best we can in this messy thing called life and misunderstandings are a natural part of our humanity. But may this be cause for extending grace, not for purging peace.
The expense of our peace is too high a price to set up on automatic-withdrawal every time we feel misunderstood.
Instead, may we quiet our souls in worship and rest in the calm of being wholly understood by God.
For true peace doesn’t come from managing the perceptions of the world, but from magnifying the presence of the Lord.
How is the longing for understanding costing you peace today?
Picture yourself placing it in God’s palm.
Exhale and rest in the One who knit you and knows you.
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