I like to think I’m not one who spends much time worrying what others think of me. But I do. Far more than I care to admit, I do.
I don’t always worry about the same thing the next girl worries about – educational choices, political preferences, aging skin – which may make it easier to disguise. I’m comfortable in those arenas, but move me into a brave new world, ahem, an inch outside my normal comfort zone, and doubts can set ablaze in ways I never even expected.
What if no one gets it? Or what if they only think they get it? What if I’m misunderstood, misquoted, misjudged?
Sara Hagerty challenged me recently with graceful words that sounded a whole lot like so what? So what if you’re misunderstood? If you know the Truth that exists in the unseen and hidden places of your relationship with Christ, shouldn’t that be enough?
Questions worth asking. Shouldn’t that be enough?
I’m pretty sure Christ gets this, because He lived this – misjudged and misunderstood. And if those feelings send me running back to Him for reassurance, that is probably the very best place to be anyway.
Do you hear that, friend?
Our priority is our relationship with Christ. Our job is to do that well. When we become distracted by what others think, how they might judge us, our story, our efforts, we have taken our eyes off of Him. We have traded our relationship with Him, what we know to be true of our intimacy with Him, for a flawed human’s interpretation of such.
When we look at it this way we can clearly see what a poor trade this is.
The fear that you will be misunderstood is smoke in mirrors. It’s a fear that distracts us from the task at hand, from offering our gifts, our humble fishes and loaves, bravely. It takes guts to offer it, no doubt, but the internal dialogue that tells you you’ll be misunderstood, misquoted, misjudged – it’s all fear. Fear based on lies. These are stumbling blocks, fiery darts, meant to throw you off course and some days they do a dang good job of it, right?
All of these are thoughts that we are required to take into captivity, fears we are commanded to bring into obedience.
Getting to the root
But let’s dig a little deeper here, beyond the fear of being misunderstood. I think my fears in this place have a deeper root. You see, I’m not fearing that some poor person might misunderstand me and further be mislead in their interpretation of Truth because of me.
Clearly, that’s possible, but let’s be honest. Most of the time that is not what I’m worried about.
I’m worried that they’ll judge me – that their high opinion of me might be in jeopardy. There is very little humility in this type of fear and it’s looks rather ugly when we pull back the covers on it.
But I go there. Not intentionally. Not always directly, I seem to meander my way there much of the time. But there I am, just like those rulers referred to in John 12:43 “for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Do you see how easy it is to get there, friend? It’s ugly to admit, but do you see how quickly, how naturally, it can happen?
Subtle fears based on misplaced affections end up silencing us, paralyzing us, from offering the gifts God has so freely bestowed upon each and every one of us.
I’m not old enough, young enough, smart enough.
I can’t lead, sing, craft, host.
I’m a beginner. I’m just starting out. I barely know what I’m doing.
My past is too messy. I’ve made too many mistakes.
What if I mess it all up, lead someone astray, can’t keep up the pace, make a fool out of myself?
What if I’m misunderstood?
Each ones of these questions, these statements, begins in the very same place, friend.
But please don’t lose sight of this, if I claim to stand on Truth, then the words I speak, the dialogue of my heart and mind should look closer to the words He has proclaimed over me.
Are you following me here?
The affections of my heart must be more closely aligned with His glory, rather than the world’s.
We’re given a job here. We are commanded to take every thought captive, to bring it into obedience (2 Corinthians 10:5). If our minds, our emotions, were not incredibly good at playing these tricks, at letting those lies and fears and misplaced affections sink it, I don’t think we would have this instruction. But they are. He knew it. Knows it. And so we are instructed precisely on what to do here.
Watch for those thoughts and then imprison them. Line them up with Truth. Demand obedience.
Do we do that? Or do we wallow there for awhile?
I’m not convinced, in this lifetime, on this earth, that I’ll be completely rid of the fears that eat at my heart, but I can ask for the courage to spot them. I can beg God for the eyes to see the fiery darts approaching and for the reflexes, the discipline, to respond. I can strengthen my reflexes on a diet of Truth. And I can armor up, as He has instructed, so fears and lies and anxieties don’t have margin to penetrate my heart.
We believe this, right? But do we live this?
I’m fighting this battle right along with you, bravely.