I've been thinking a lot recently about miscommunication. And I've started thinking about the difference between a person's self-image and the image seen by others.
At work I was noticing this lady who struck me as rather rude and probably a bit sad, like her life was just unhappy right now and she was taking it out on the people around her. She wasn't at my table, but I noticed that when her server came around she didn't even look that him. When they dropped off the food for the table, she didn't even show a glimmer of satisfaction, let alone say thank you. And I wondered what could make someone act that way. But I also so this woman when nothing was really happening and she had this dignified look in her eye and and she held herself upright, and I realized, of course this woman doesn't see herself as rude or unappreciative. Her image of herself is completely different. She probably sees herself as a woman of bearing and dignity and purpose, and she probably has no idea or next to none that others see her as rude, and if she did, she probably couldn't guess why.
It amazes me how our images can be so different, but I notice that it happens all the time. People mis-read or miscommuinicate just about everything and it lies behind much of the problems in our relationships. People may see themselves as dignified and appear proud or scornful. Strong may seem brash, noble may seem judgmental. Happy may seem uncaring, exuberant flighty, and sensible rude. We constantly find ourselves in these situations.
I myself often think of myself as logical and sensible, and I have hurt people's feelings with words and manners that I could only describe as such. I have seen many other pitfalls happen with myself and with many others.
Now there are some among us who probably feel like we see more clearly and are able to discern more readily what is really going on, and perhaps some of us do, but who is to say with certainty? Knowing how many times I have been misjudged, I at least should keep in mind how easily others may experience it too, and therefore avoid it altogether. I have a co-worker who I know tries to live positive and who works hard and tries to be perfect in doing her job. I've heard other people talk about her as being arrogant, as if she's trying to be better than everyone else and rubbing it in. I've heard her complain about others having no self-respect and dignity. I believe she just really wants to live the best she can. I also believe that others feel a sense of degradation around her, but that's what happens, isn't it? I've gotten frustrated with people and been rude to them, and when they've told others that I'm not a nice person, people look at them like they're crazy, because we always see so many different sides.
I have to go, so I'll end with a prayer that God would make us wise and we would forsake judgment and condemnation and seek understanding and reconciliation. That we would be aware of how others see us and the things we do, and that we would take lightly and with a grain of salt the way we see others and the things they do. Amen