Being OK When Your Intentions Are Misunderstood

By Nancy Virden (c)2023

A man tries to approach his father to sincerely tell him he has forgiven the harsh manner in which he was raised. The son intends to restore what, in his view, has been broken. He loves his father and wants wholeness in that relationship.

He imagines going fishing with his father without fear or bitterness. He thinks he will hear, “I’m proud of you for coming to me.” His hopes are high even as he is feeling better already.

After saying his piece, he is astounded and shocked when his father responds with what feels like rejection. “You were always wimpy. I didn’t toughen you up enough.”

Without an apology or reconciliation, his father seems perfectly content to leave things as they have been- tense, terse, and decidedly not whole. The son wonders if his father feels it and is aware of the distance. He goes home crushed and sad.

If your intentions are misunderstood, try the following.

  1. Gain insight into the other party by studying what you know. Has this person shown evidence of an open heart? Are they capable of responding the way you want? What do you know of their history such as their family relationships?
  2. List what you want and then check off those items you can actually control. The son in our example approached his father with a story already written about what should be the result. Well, we do not have any say in how people act. Lose the expectations that are outside of your control.
  3. Pay attention to your motives. Are you trying to change another person? Do you want to change history? Each of these goals will drop you in the dirt. Instead, think of today. Ask yourself, what now? What step can you take today that will better your future?
  4. Use “I” statements. Avoid putting the other person on the defensive by saying “I feel …” and “I need…” instead of “You made me feel…” or “You are always…”
  5. Do not apologize for things that are out of your control. You did not “make” anyone angry by wanting to discuss an issue, you do not have that kind of power. Sometimes I have to admit I was not as clear as I had intended. Apologizing for my part in a misunderstanding is appropriate. Do not grovel.
  6. Love better than you have been loved. Change the legacy, the story, and the consequences. Bitterness is the poison we drink hoping the other person will die. It never works that way. Forgive, and help make a healthier world.


Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 13:5-8 

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?  And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988, or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair. NOTE: Nancy is not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speaks only from personal experience and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.


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