Being misunderstood is a corollary of the prophetic.
Those weren’t that friend’s exact words. But they’re close enough. And, oh, how I hate being misunderstood. My heart thrives on being known, on living from a place of openness. Yet, lately, it’s been different.
Ever since Jesus’ words last year, those ones about presence to him and absence to others, since then things have been different. At first, I hardly noticed. Nor, perhaps, did anyone else. But it’s getting obvious now, like a pregnancy at first easily concealed but now a silhouette changed for all to see.
I just haven’t been there. To many of those who had come to assume it, I am no longer present. It’s not true of all my relationships but, with some, it’s as if there is a glass screen between us. I feel it so I’m sure you do. I can’t quite listen for your heart as I once did. Where I was once a strong, stable presence who absorbed the pain and confusion of others, now I probably appear largely indifferent. And though I’m not, it’s as if thousands of miles separate us.
As far as I can tell, it’s because Jesus won’t allow me to do this anymore. I wasn’t me when I was present to you in that way. Or, at least, I was only partly me. I’d so overextended myself in being present to others that what you got was not me but a hologram, 3D projection of a self enslaved to being what it thought was needed. Why this life of false self happened is multidimensional. Mostly it’s about my brokennesses; and, in the tiniest part, it’s about historically having had no examples of introverts in ministry.
In a way, none of that matters because Jesus is bringing me to freedom. Things are changing and I have pulled back. It turns out that Jesus is jealous for me, that he will not let me any longer expend energy on being what I never really was. Instead I am far more present in these days to my own self – and increasingly present to him.
Yet constantly I am tempted to go backwards, to remove my hand from the plough, to submit to the hands reaching out to hold on to me. It happens when others say things which demonstrate that they’ve noticed this changed silhouette. Sometimes it’s sideways comments that make me imagine an agenda perhaps not actually there. Other times what is expressed is far more direct. Acceptance yet confusion. Or simple hurt. Or what feels like judgment.
And I try to give words to this thing. Despite it all, I still want to be open. To live this new degree of joy before you. And sometimes in my blog posts I succeed. Most times in my speaking I flounder. For how do you give words to what is so far beyond what you have ever known? How do you keep talking when you can see it in their eyes, hear it in their voices, that you’re making no sense? Misunderstood. But not because they can’t hear it. Mostly because I hardly have categories even to tell it.
In it all, I feel powerless. I wrestle with it. Am I becoming too detached? Isn’t the call to love others? Shouldn’t I be pouring myself out relationally as I once did? Is this unhealthy introspection and am I hopelessly deluded? But he’s warned me strongly about turning back. Eleven years ago Peter and I received a powerful and lengthy prophecy in front of the whole church we were then attending. It included a warning not to take our hands from the plough, not to turn back, at the time of our lives being prophesied. Though I’ve often wondered what that particular time would be, I am beginning to believe it is in these days.
So I don’t think I can turn back. I have to trust that this is a Jesus-thing being birthed in my life. I have to pursue him with all I have. And maybe I just have to be misunderstood.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benko/80995166