There is little in life that foments anxiety as much as being misunderstood. Our intentions belong only to ourselves, yet we make the common error of presupposing that our intentions can be clearly inferred by our actions or historical “goodness”. Reality finds us defending our activity and its meaning on a fairly regular basis.
To be misunderstood is a common cross for those who follow Christ. The way we choose to live, the decisions we make for our families and for ourselves, and the priorities we set can be seen by others as condemning and judgmental. Our fidelity to the Church carries with it the notions of all those who oppose her, who observe and note our words and actions to confirm their prejudice.
More disturbing are those circumstances in which we who should be of like mind and heart do the same to one another. A wise man once told me, “What we don’t know we make up, and it’s never good”. How often we speculate the intentions of others maliciously, yet we are indignant when the same is directed to ourselves.
If God calls us to love one another, we need to learn to be gentle, kind, and patient. We need to presuppose the best in others, and respond with love. We need to endure personal attack with gentle reserve and reflect honestly on our intentions. Sometimes that is best done in silence, at other times in conversation marked with a generous spirit. Most of all, “what we don’t know” we should never make up…it only gets us into trouble.