A heart thing

I hate the feeling of being misunderstood. I hate seeing someone I care for criticized due to being misunderstood. Being misunderstood is something that any living and breathing person must endure at some point (probably many) in his or her life.

Learning a second language and everything that comes with it (engaging a new culture, starting cross-cultural relationships, etc) is practically setting yourself up to be misunderstood. Like, a lot. Despite your best efforts and intentions.

But you don’t have to be speaking in a second language to have your words misinterpreted. In fact, you don’t have to speak at all. It’s funny how people can come to their own conclusions about another person without ever talking to them personally or hearing from their heart. Hearsay can be pretty brutal.

We imperfect humans do our best while muddling through this life of fragile relationships trying to find the balance in reaching out to others in vulnerability and protecting our own sensitive hearts. Sometimes we get in ugly, awkward, uncomfortable situations and there’s no script to tell us how to respond. So we react… or we don’t. And we can get criticized either way.

We can probably think on situations in which our heart would fit in to two different categories: bad or good. With regret and shame we might recall times we sought out things for our own selfish gain at the expense of someone else but we would probably say that most of the time our motives are pure and we are just misunderstood.

But even at our best, our hearts are deceitful.

9“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 10“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

This is one of my daily prayers. Lord, search my heart.

Some days I want to scream, “…and search their heart while you’re at it!” But I am only responsible for me and my heart and my words and my actions.

I like to think my heart is good. I find myself often saying, “If only they knew my intentions! If only they knew my heart!” But maybe my heart is really selfish and greedy. Maybe I justify all my egotistical decisions to make myself believe that I am truly pure of heart and that is it everyone else who has ulterior motives and sneaky self-important schemes.

Lord, search my heart.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting![d] Psalm 139:23-24

What I do know is that a pure heart doesn’t come from us broadcasting our false humility or convincing others of our own innocence. It comes in the quiet moments alone with God when no one else is around to see or hear. It comes in examining that deceitful thing inside of us; it comes in the pruning, although painful; and it comes in the humiliating stripping down of all our pitiful tries and filthy rags of self-righteousness.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right[b] spirit within me. Psalm 51:10


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