By nature, if we don’t know “the rest of the story” our minds will assume.
Matthew 1:23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
I can only imagine what people assumed about Mary and how they treated her when news got out that she was pregnant.
My son and I had been living in a new area for a several weeks, before we finally had the opportunity to meet our neighbor. She was a lot older than I, but my wish was to make a friend close by. As soon as she turned to respond to my “hello’ I knew a friendship was unrealistic. Looking down her nose at us, she snapped, “Where’s your husband?”
That wasn’t the first time someone looked down on me as a single mom–and it would be far from the last time my character was misjudged. But at the time I couldn’t think of how to respond to my neighbor’s cutting words; my heart was too raw from the divorce. “He’s gone” I said with my head hanging down.
As I walked away, I realized my sorrow and the word “gone” must have made me sound like a widow. I thought about looking back to see if she was feeling remorse for her harsh heart, but I didn’t. “Let her feel bad! My husband’s betrayal felt like death and she shouldn’t be judging me!”
While watching my life through her window, my neighbor assumed I was a promiscuous young girl who had gotten herself in trouble. Her mind filled in the parts of my story that she couldn’t see. How could she know that my husband had been the first and only man I had been with and that my heart was broken over his abandonment? Her assumptions of my lifestyle made her blind to the reality of my situation.
We all have our coping mechanisms.
As a wounded woman in my twenties, I didn’t handle her judgment very well. My spirit of desolation showed through the way I subconsciously made her feel bad. My passive aggressive response was a way of punishing her for judging me. Perhaps you would have responded more aggressively? We each handle these kinds of things the best we know how.
I didn’t understand the different clothing personalities then, but when I look back at that major Confidence Conflict in my life, I realize that my neighbor was probably a Gamine (Gamines are compelled to speak their minds, especially when they see something in need of correction.) I don’t have any Gamine in me. My Natural nature wants to keep peace and is uncomfortable with confrontation, but my passionate, Dramatic side has strong opinions like the Gamines do. I used to take great pride in my ability to keep my opinions to myself, but recently I realized I don’t.
When we don’t speak up, we still speak.
I may not always have the guts to speak my mind, but my body language speaks anyway. Far too often I have hurt others with my expressions, all the while taking pride in my ability to hold my tongue. My unspoken words created assumptions far worse than my voice would have given. With the realization of my harsh body language I have gained new understanding of the bitter responses I sometime receive. Being guilty of a harsh heart as well leads me to forgive people who are harsh toward me.
Silence does not always “keep peace” because body language is stronger than words. At least I knew what my neighbor was thinking about me, even if it was judgmental. My silence has left people around me assuming “the rest of my thoughts” and their assumptions were often far worse than the reality.
John 1:46-51 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me-- holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
Wether you find yourself misjudged and alone today, or you are trying to figure out why others are responding to you with such bitterness, I encourage you to seek out (and not assume) or speak out (and not remain silent) the rest of the story. Remember that God His Son to a young virgin Jew who would be misjudged as a promiscuous rebel. The Christ child’s birth, life and death would also be misjudged on many levels. He understands misunderstandings. Let us follow His (and Mary’s) example and endure the hurts, disappointments and judgments of one another with the strength we have in knowing we are not alone. God is with us.
Catrina Welch is an inspirational author and speaker whose passion is empowering women and girls to BE and LET BE. Her expertise as a cosmetologist, image consultant and Biblical life-coach, as well as her personal experiences with abandonment and grief make her message relatable to anyone dealing with rejection, betrayal or loss.
Her latest book, CONFIDENT BEAUTY: Reflecting the One Who Made You, with the Images in your Mirror and in your Soul, will soon be available as an audiobook. Autographed copies of all her books are available on her website at www.CatrinaWelch.com