Have you ever been misunderstood? It’s a pretty terrible and helpless feeling when you mean well and yet are received in a completely different light. My mother taught me to exhaustion at a very young age that we always have “choices”.
When we are misjudged, we have a choice. We can ignore it. We can get angry. We can seek justice. Or we can forgive. I’ve only been around for 33 years, but I can’t think of anything more exhausting than holding onto anger. It is self-serving. Sure you have been wronged, but in the end, you are wronging yourself more when you carry that anger with you everywhere you go.
This is not to say I am a pushover. I simply cannot keep quiet when an injustice has occurred. Absolutely NOTHING except resentment gets accomplished when you do not defend yourself. Once the defense has rested, however, I make the conscientious choice to let it be. Over the years, I have learned that truly the only person we can control is our self. We cannot control how others perceive us or how they will react to our defense. But we CAN control how we move forward.
What did we learn from that experience? What would we change, if anything, the next time around? An error isn’t a mistake unless we fail to learn from it, I used to tell my fourth graders. So I resolve to live by that motto today. We are all imperfect. In most situations, surely, even if we have been wronged, we can take some responsibility.
I choose (my mother would be so proud) to feel sadness when I have been wronged, followed by possible anger, followed by a plan of how I will move forward. What can I learn? Where do we go from here? What good can I make of this? And then, as James Baldwin said,
“I looked down the line, and I wondered. When I buckled up my shoes, and I started.”
We keep on, keepin’ on.