Wednesday, November 14, 2007

misunderstanding each other

There are so many reasons why we so easily misunderstand the basic intent of another person. Misunderstanding is problematical in and of itself, and usually creates a new problem since what was communicated or what's the intent is not understood.

Surely the greatest obstacle to understanding each other, and the biggest impediment for doing so, as well as source for misunderstanding another is lack of love. Love hears well; lack of love does not. Love hopes for the best and thinks the best; lack of love has no such hope and easily thinks the worst. Of course we have love well described here.

Where do we need to begin when we have or sense a disconnect with someone else? We need to begin with love, and specifically love in Jesus, or the love of God in Jesus. I'm not a bumper sticker fan, but there's plenty of truth in the simple slogan I've read on a number of vehicles, if understood in Jesus: "Love wins." Love will end up winning because of the grace of God in Jesus. Though tragically not everyone will be on the winning side.

Of course this is a love that is defined in Jesus and in the Story of God we find in Scripture. Not to say that a real love doesn't exist in humans made in God's image, even though broken, cracked Eikons (eikon is Greek New Testament word for "image" and where we get "icon" from). But we recover our full humanity and thus find that enduring, sustaining love, only in Jesus. And this love can not only avoid misunderstanding, but result in a true understanding of each other, as we seek to walk in obedience to the will of God in Jesus our Lord.

Just a sketch, as usual, and hopefully to stimulate us to further thought on this.


Anonymous said...

a new word that crossed my path this morning.

Proverbs 10:12
Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.

one can tell someone that they are loved, and then one can offer the Love that flows through us.

L.L. Barkat said...

I wish that love always led naturally to understanding. Honestly, there are situations and people I do not understand. So I can choose to love, to act lovingly, but in my heart I'm still sometimes confused and troubled.

Every Square Inch said...


Thanks for your thoughts - when you say the source of misunderstanding is the "lack of love" that a kind of passive "hatred"?

I ask because, at times, it seems to be viewed that way in the Bible.

Mike said...

As an IT manager I often deal with strong personalities. Caring about someone and taking the time to listen is often lost. Especially in today's me centered culture.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Thinking about LL's comment - love only leads to true understanding when it is extended on both sides.

Certainly it can lead to an opening, a willingness to understand when it is extended unilaterally and expressed by loving actions such as active listening, acts of graciousness, etc - but to real understanding, it seems to me that it has to be extended from both people - and then a lot of work has to be added before real understanding is achieved.

I too find that even when I am trying my hardest to love someone quite actively by extending grace and trying to serve, I often end up frustrated, confused and troubled because I do not understand another's response.

Anonymous said...

i think that allowing God's love to be offered to others leads to more understanding of Love and thus more understanding of God which in turn leads us to more of God's powerful Love for others, not our understanding of our love but God's Love.

part of the living and learning of the life of the Spirit in us.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Love covering all wrongs is surely a redemptive love that is fulfilled in Jesus. And then we in him are to continue this radical, other-worldly love (as in loving our enemies, etc.).

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. Our continued love does not automatically result in understanding or avoiding misunderstanding. But it's a challenge at times, though in Jesus we can- to continue to extend love even in the midst of an estrangement and separation or disconnect.

It does seem like some relationships seem lost as far as mutual understanding, though hopefully these are an exception to the rule, especially in our families and church communities.

Good thought, and thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...


A passive hatred. Quite interesting, and I think very true. You can't just refuse to love; that becomes a passive hatred, maybe as in neglecting or ignoring or in a demeaning way. Almost better to be angry with someone if that anger is an expression of love to help them come back to what is right, or to forgiveness in Jesus, rather than simply cast them aside as beneath your caring about their plight or misdirection.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, I think so much misunderstanding occurs simply because we fail to listen and really seek to hear someone out.

As with other comments- this doesn't mean a good resolution, but I think it normally does, or at least normally puts matters on the way towards a good resolution.

The me-centeredness certainly smacks against really understanding another, since "I" must step aside and listen and be willing to hear their understanding in a conflict, and maybe even end up changing our own view and thinking, a willingness and openness to do that, if need be.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. Very true. This love extended does not automatically result in the ending of misunderstanding. And you well point out the hard work it takes to get there.

I think I was thinking just about the necessity of love being a starting point for working towards understanding as well as the lack of love being the biggest barrier against achieving that.

It can be very frustrating, and I'm sure this is especially true for those who experience this with someone in their own family like their spouse (and who hasn't experienced some of this, in-family?) or with another Christian. It's tough but love just won't give up, though at times I do or I want to throw in the towel, or I just realize I can only hope for some improvement over time by grace in regard to a relationship.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Interesting thought. I think it's true that the more we live in the love of God, the more that love becomes alive in our hearts and flows over in our lives to others.

But this can be quite painful when the end result does not really mend the broken relationship.

I like what Miroslav Volf (and others, I believe) emphasize at times, in that we work towards reconciliation, not necessarily arriving there.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks all, for the stimulating thoughts.

As in my last comment to Nancy, this love in Jesus should at least be worked out so as to help move us towards reconciliation with another or with each other. Perfect and complete reconciliation may not happen this side of "heaven", or in this life.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa) is an excellent case in point of this.

But the point of the posting was to say love is the starting point.

But your comments here made the important point that still we can be left grasping with empty hands and not really understanding. But the love of God in Jesus must press on, regardless. Even though we as humans cannot possibly love with the perfection of God since we're limited in various ways when God is not.

Anonymous said...

maybe what is best is to continue to offer the love of God without expectation of understanding of them or reconciliation from them for ourselves. for we do not know how God is working in their lives and ours.

Anonymous said...

maybe we never truly understand, even when we think we do, and should just do what God says because He is the only one that knows all.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thoughts there. Amen. Yes, we're in the dark now compared to what's to come. At the same time wanting as much by grace in this life as is possible.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

as to your comment back to me on this post - I agree wholeheartedly