Misreading Between the Lines

Have you ever been fuming mad at someone, only to find out you totally misread the conversation? In our world of rapid-fire communication, faulty perceptions, and misunderstandings, it’s easy to get our wires crossed. Sometimes this is funny. Other times it’s downright painful, and has the potential to destroy relationships and lead to bitterness. If not dealt with.

10 For,

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it. (1 Peter 3:10-11)

What do you think of when you hear the word peace? What does it mean to “seek” and “pursue” it? Does this mean avoiding conflict? Holding our tongue? Is peace at all cost truly peace? In our effort to seek peace, are we smiling on the outside while our insides fester? And if so, how long before those bottled-in and swallowed-down emotions blow?

I believe biblical peace runs deeper than a ceasing of war. Biblical peace speaks of wholeness, of restoring things to how they should be.

Biblical peace implies authentic conflict resolution. Honesty, not superficiality. Speaking the truth in love and getting to the root of the issue. When deep hurt has occurred, this may take time. We may even need a third party to help us out.

Other times, we may find that what we thought was an issue wasn’t really an issue after all.

A few days ago, I received an email from someone I had hurt. Twice. I hadn’t intended to hurt them, wasn’t even aware I had … until I read the email. We realized it was a misunderstanding–a misreading between the lines. The person felt silly for sending me the email, but I was so glad she did. Had she not, her hurt would’ve remained, creating disunity. By honestly expressing her feelings, she gave me the opportunity to apologize–and explain.

Afterward, my daughter, her friend, and I had a lengthy conversation on communication errors, and they shared with me similar stories. Times when someone they cared about hurt them deeply–unintentionally. Only many times, they hadn’t gotten to the truth until weeks or months later–after weeks of hurt, of disunity. We decided it’s best to communicate openly *before* forming our conclusions, giving the “offending” party the benefit of the doubt.

We decided to “seek peace.” The kind of peace that holds tight to relationships, seeking restoration and intimacy.

It is so easy to read between the lines, to assign feelings, judgments, and conclusions to words and actions. But what if our interpretations are wrong?

Let’s talk about this. When have you unwittingly caused someone pain? When have you been hurt by someone else, only to find out you assigned faulty meaning to their words and actions? How can we avoid this communication jumbling?

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about speaking the truth in love in order to seek biblical peace–a peace that leads to relationship-restoration and increased intimacy.

Also, the Beauty for the Broken campaign continues for two more days. With a few clicks of your computer mouse, you can help me and a friend win $5,500 for two wonderful orphan ministries. You’ll also receive a $10 Mary Kay gift card if you vote then tell us you did so here in the comments. (Vote here.)

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