I've felt extremely passionate and compelled to write about this subject recently. One, because it’s something I have had to and continue to battle with and two, because I see others battling it on a daily basis also.
The battle of being misunderstood.
Being misunderstood has led me to misunderstanding myself, therefore screwing with the already present battle of identity we face as humans. Who am I? Why am I the way I am? Why do I feel strongly about this and that? Why am I different from everyone else? Why do people get offended every time I open my mouth?
Ever heard yourself asking these questions?
In all honesty I have asked myself at least one of these questions pretty much every day since I can remember.
To misunderstand means “to fail to interpret or understand the words or actions of someone correctly” … When we fail to interpret or understand what someone is saying, we paint a picture in our heads of who that person is and receive everything they say from that moment on, through the filter of what we first misunderstood.
What a screwed up world we live in, that because of our lack of understanding and willingness to give people a chance, we suppress them to not wanting to try.
For this reason people close off from being the real them.
Here’s some personal experiences of where I have had to battle with being misunderstood and continue to do so:
1. I’m opinionated. I will have a opinion about most things, as does everyone, but I am a person that if I feel the moment is right, I will probably voice that opinion. Sure, it sometimes gets me in trouble, but I would much rather have someone come and tell me I should have kept quiet, than spend a week dwelling on the fact I never shared it.
2. I love people. A lot. If you are within my friendship circle I would hope that I invest into you with my time, friendship, jokes, incredibly random gifts, kind words and love. My friendships are not gender specific, I don’t get on with girls more than guys and I don’t get on with guys more than girls. I have a balanced love and tolerance of the both. (Side note: my tolerance level does decrease, there will be times where I don’t love people and need a day to introvert and recharge. I’m cool with that and my close friends know it - the beauty of friendship is you don’t get offended when your friend says “go away”, you just KNOW they need refuelling).
3. I’m loud. Yes I know I’m loud, I have a loud voice, I do not need a microphone when I’m singing, I get it. I can lower the tone of my voice, I can pull away from the microphone when singing, it doesn’t always help. People still seem to have issues with it, I do too, so please don’t worry about it - I have asked God multiple times why the tone of my voice, despite my efforts, seems to carry further than others.
So here is those 3 things spoken to me, that created those misunderstood experiences and here is the effect they had:
“You’re too opinionated” - So I shut down. I didn’t share.
“You’re too involved with him/her, people might get the wrong idea” - So I shut off. I didn’t love or let people close.
“You’re too loud, it won’t allow others to feel they can speak” - So I shut up. I didn’t use my voice.
(I shared those 3 because I know someone reading this will have definitely have heard them too - they’re not uncommon!!)
Here’s what I discovered:
I am now living my life walking on egg shells, trying not to offend, upset or hurt anyone’s feelings, for the fear of being misunderstood. I am holding back all my talent, love and opinions, as to not upset the status quo. I am hiding any other potential qualities of mine because I don’t want people to think I am trying to be better than them. And I am walking around life, dodging opportunities and just existing; doing my jobs that need to be done and having no impact on the world whatsoever. All this while I tentatively watch and admire others living these amazing, confidence-filled and beautiful lifestyles and wishing I could be like that some day.
Here’s what I learnt and am still learning:
What kind of life is that that I am living? Certainly not the one Jesus died for me to have.
I have a voice to be heard.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have an opinion to be shared.
“Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice.” - Steve Jobs.
I should love people so radically that others don’t understand. What would Jesus have done? Would Jesus of held back in loving and spending time with people because others misunderstood his actions?
“Loving people the way Jesus did means a life of being constantly misunderstood.” - Bob Goff.
Galatians 5:1 - It’s was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
This includes the slavery of fear, the fear of mans opinion, the fear that if I say or do that thing I will have to explain myself - that’s not what Jesus died for me to live under.
I can’t stress enough how fired up I get about this kind of thing. I’m getting passionate and about ready to preach in the coffee shop I’m currently sat in typing this. I hate seeing people hold back and be quiet because they don’t want to offend or upset the status quo. The sad reality is that I do exactly the same - often times, I want the best for other people, so I push them forward into opportunities and hope they soar… Yet I hold back, because I feel what I could bring will offend. What a twisted way to live. It’s something I’m working on, I promise.
In my year at Bible College an amazing leader took me aside one day and said “Naomi, you have an insecurity of intimidation. You hold back because you are scared that if you bring something to the table, people will think you are being cocky and they will be offended by your actions. Well the reality is, they probably will, but that is their issue and not yours. Stop holding back.”
I spent the afternoon bawling my eyes out and ringing my mum for emotional support. He was so right and what he said slapped me straight across the face.
How did he know? … Was it written on my forehead? … Had he read my diary?
I’ve been dwelling on that thought ever since, I get emotional every time I think about it, because a lot of the time I still feel trapped up in that insecurity and like he saw in me that day, I can so clearly see others fighting that same fight.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- NELSON MANDELA.
This quote accurately sums up my feelings and what I am passionate about. A voice and a chance for people to feel listened to and understood, an opportunity for people to live out their God given destiny.
“We are ALL meant to shine. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.”
Liberation brings liberation.
See, the trouble is we preach to people to be bold and bright and shine and yet when they try or even ask for an opportunity we freak out, get offended and shut them back down. We are a creation that is afraid of change.
Many years ago a mentor of mine said to me - “Without change, nothing changes” and that statement changed my life forever. It changed my thinking, shaped my actions and forever left me with this quote tattooed in my head and on my heart. Unless we allow change, how can we expect anything different? If we don’t give people permission or access to an opportunity, however great or small, how can we expect them to shine their brightest?
Yes, change is SCARY, but change is GOOD.
It causes a moment of risk and vulnerability but vulnerability is often the birthplace of something new and something beautiful.
“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colours in the world … If I make you light bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - Shine!”
I’m passionate about people seeing someone’s heart behind their motive, before they jump to conclusions based on what they themselves have failed to understand.
I’m passionate about seeing people not suppressing other people’s light, people that don’t hinder other people’s giftings, because it’s different to what they currently know.
I’m passionate about everyone being given an opportunity to share and express what God has put in their heart.
I’m passionate about loving people radically.
I’m passionate about people having their opinions listened to and their voice heard.
I’m passionate about that freedom that Christ died to give us.
And lastly, I am passionate about people understanding that sometimes their stepping out will be completely misunderstood, but yet they choose to do it anyway.
One thing I know from experience is that trying to explain yourself all the time is exhausting - people only understand from their level of perception.
People who know your heart will never question your actions.