I made a comment in passing. There were no deep thoughts or accusations in my mind regarding the character of the person when I said it. I meant no harm in what I said. I certainly had not intended to hurt the receiver or to even say anything mean about them. Yet, it did hurt them. My comment instantly said more to them than what originally was intended by my words.
The interesting thing about this incident is that the recipient of my comment actually projected into my words all kinds of feelings and meanings that the words never meant to me. The person took my words and accused me of not thinking the best of them. They placed on me the very judgment they believed I placed on them.
Suddenly, what they thought I said in my comment now began to fill my mind. My mind now raced with all kinds of thoughts about them. Suddenly what they believed I meant by my comment took on a life of its own within my thoughts.
This suddenly got me thinking. How often do we project our own feelings into something said to us? Sure, there are indeed times when people deliberately set out to say things to hurt us. However, don't we often jump to wrong conclusions based on our interpretations of the words said to us? How often do we actually hear what might never have been said or intended to be heard? I believe more often than we care to admit.
I've now lived long enough to say, that this is precisely why many relationships have been fractured and many times destroyed. We hear something and instantly project our feelings into what we believed they meant by what they said to us.
Now, of course, if we feel good about what was said, all is well. However, if what we believe we heard causes us to question ourselves, then we instantly believe the person intended on hurting us. I put out the challenge that maybe it isn't what they intended at all.
We need to seek the Lord to do a work in us. We can avoid a lot of self-induced pain if we just stop jumping to conclusions and letting our imaginations runaway. We want others to believe the best about us, so let's begin by thinking the best about them.