Being misunderstood makes you feel frustrated and cut off from others

As Christians, we frequently find ourselves being misunderstood, and it's a painful feeling.

It's even worse when you're single. You feel more isolated and alone than a married person would. Not having anyone to talk to about it makes the situation even worse.

When the misunderstanding happens because of your faith, you learn to expect that--yet it still hurts. Everybody wants to feel accepted, and you're no exception. Being misunderstood smacks of unfairness. Someone has judged you without knowing all the facts, or from deliberately ignoring your point of view.

When prejudice is the cause

On the surface, misunderstanding seems to be a communication problem. Somebody's message is not getting through. But in some cases, there's a prejudice or meanness of spirit that wants to cut someone off.

Alienation is a major problem today. It's easy to get the wrong signal. You might feel another has snubbed you, when the truth is that they were busy or distracted by some personal problem. Busyness, crowding, and rudeness have made us all defensive.

We're like those motorized toys that have a bumper switch. Everytime they run into something, they immediately back away and go in the opposite direction. Whether we're aware of it or not, all of us are subject to certain prejudices. You can work hard to eliminate them, but an unconscious remnant may still remain. So try to recognize if the person misunderstanding you is coming from that direction.

Being misunderstood takes patience

Followers of Jesus Christ know that being misunderstood was one of the hardest trials he suffered while here on earth. His message was rejected. Some thought he should be a warrior king. People in his hometown of Nazareth, who had known him all his life, were so jealous that he couldn't perform any miracles there.

The closer you follow Jesus, the more you'll be misunderstood. You need his supernatural patience--and more--to keep from getting discouraged. Let's face it. Unbelievers can be downright nasty to Christians. Just check the comments to any Christian-related news story on the Web.

Jesus promised us trouble in this life, and he was never wrong. Still, it's natural to be hurt when people treat you unkindly.

Seek the right kind of friends

One way to cope with being misunderstood is to cultivate Christian friendships. When we're with other believers, we're on the same wavelength. We talk the same language. We cherish the same truths. We're part of the family. As singles, we need to reach out.

Being misunderstood doesn't happen as often in that kind of fellowship, and when it does, people usually make the effort to restore the relationship.

I often felt alienated until I joined a men's Bible study group. Then I learned that there was nothing wrong with me. I found men who think the same way I do. We have the same values. We appreciate God's love, even though we can't always articulate it.

Christ instituted a church so his followers could support one another. Christianity is not a solitary faith, even for single people. We need each other.

If you don't belong to a church or have other close Christian friends, I urge you to reach out. Don't worry about being accepted. You'll be welcomed as enthusiastically as the prodigal son (or daughter)!

Here's where you'll find true understanding

Often, we don't even understand ourselves. We don't know why we do the things we do, and we can't see how we might be unconsciously sabotaging ourselves. Paul spoke of that.

Remember, though, that Jesus knows exactly how you feel, whether it's about your faith or any other aspect of your life that people don't understand. I used to doubt that, until I realized that Christ created my ability to feel things.

Take comfort in the knowledge that God knows you better than you know yourself. He knows how you tick, and he can repair you any time you ask.

Make some strong Christian friends and take your hurts to Jesus. He'll bring you peace and understanding you can't find anywhere else.

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