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TeenConnect: UpFront

‘No one understands me’

From the Christian Science Sentinel - February 10, 2017

From the teen column: UpFront - February 10, 2017

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TeenConnect: Up Front

My friend had just had a fight with her parents. On her Instagram story, the screen was black, punctuated by just one sentence: “No one understands me.”

Maybe you’ve had moments like this, too—when the feeling of being so alone, so misunderstood, overwhelms you. I had them in high school, and even after high school, when it seemed like the people who were supposed to care the most just didn’t get me. Those moments are painful and can sometimes feel hopeless. As my friend put it when I texted her: “I’ve just given up on trying to make them understand.”

I felt like a misfit.

We might not be able to make others get us, but as I’ve prayed through these moments in my own life, I’ve found that there’s something deeper that I’m yearning for. It’s as if that desire to be understood by friends and family is the surface-level version of what’s actually a more fundamental need—a need for certainty that we are known, seen, and loved. My prayers have also shown me that God always meets that need.

Now I’ll admit that if you told me that during some of my own “no one understands me” episodes, I might not have thought it was a satisfying answer. Being known and loved by God seemed like it was in a different category. I wasn’t sure what good it would do when I felt like a misfit in the rest of my life.

Then one day when I was despairing over being misunderstood yet again, the gentlest reassurance came as a simple thought, cutting right through the gloom. It was God, my divine Mother, saying that She created me, so of course She knew my heart.

In that moment, I felt in a way I never had before that I was completely known and loved. Not accepted for my personality, with its strengths and many weaknesses, and still loved anyway. But known spiritually, as I really am: divine Love’s radiant, flawless design. Delighted in and adored. And I got on some level that Love’s cherishing of me had always been going on, even in those moments when those around me didn’t seem to get me or where I was coming from.

It must have been a similar understanding that enabled Christ Jesus to carry on even when his own people failed to understand him or to get what he was about. It could have been lonely and painful to be “despised and rejected of men,” as the book of Isaiah puts it (53:3). Instead, Jesus’ conviction that nothing could separate him from his Father’s love, that no misperception of who he was could prevent him from fulfilling his mission, enabled him to triumph over the most horrifying misunderstanding of all—that he somehow deserved to be crucified.

Love’s cherishing of me had always been going on, even in those moments when no one got me.

Jesus assured us that we, too, are precious to God—not just through Jesus’ powerful example, but also through his words. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered,” he promised (Matthew 10:30), which is one of the things I texted back to my friend when we were talking. From my own experience, I knew this wasn’t just a nice or comforting idea, but a powerful spiritual truth that was operating on her behalf, and that it could free her from the lie that said that any one of God’s ideas could be a misfit or a mistake.

That’s something she’s still working on, and I am, too. But we’ve both seen how catching a glimpse of the fact that God knows us—and the way He knows us, as the reflection of His own goodness—can lift us out of the despair of feeling misunderstood. When that happens, labels like “misfit” drop away, and we discover something wonderful: Each of us is the fully-loved son or daughter of God, with a place in His kingdom.

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