"Do now, do now, what you will wish to have done when your moment comes to die." [St. Angela Merici]

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Intense or Passionate—Being Misunderstood at The Point of Contact

By Micky Wolf
Before I venture into what could be a morass of further misunderstanding, it is important to recognize and acknowledge the subjectivity that is part and parcel of what it means to be misunderstood.

There are two sides to this sticky coin. The first is how we perceive others response to us, and secondly, the way we interpret them through our intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and psychological filters.

For all that we hold in common as human beings sharing space on this planet, there is much that is unique about each of us. While we may have greater similarity given the same biological families or ancestral or environmental backgrounds, even those influences are not enough to make us identical.

Enter the aforementioned subjectivity. And it shows itself no greater than in how you and I define a couple of concepts that are important building blocks for living the life God created us for while minimizing the opportunity for misunderstanding.


To be intense is to be expressive with great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration…exhibiting strong feeling or earnestness of purpose…deeply felt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Who among us doesn’t respect the individual who is zealous, energetic, determined and concentrated when it comes to everyday life? We may not agree with the person’s activity or goal embedded in this kind of laser focused living, but we can’t deny their commitment. (I’m referring to actions and behaviors that aren’t harmful or unloving toward others or themselves.)

Many of our nation’s greatest and most effective business, political and corporate leaders and creatives have been and are intense. Many are reformers and advocates who are soft-spoken, articulate, people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Men and women who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life for our families, our communities and our country.

Absent intensity, we’d not be the beneficiaries of the blessings that resulted, sometimes at the expense of great personal sacrifice on the part of these courageous, determined intense individuals with an earnestness of purpose.


To be passionate is to behave similarly, although a couple of additional characteristics may be present, namely anger, or strong romantic or sexual feelings. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Uh-oh. Anger. Sexual. Include one of those in the way you think, speak, or act and you’ve got more than enough to stir the pot of misunderstanding. Add both of them and a veritable explosion of thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions is a mere breath from erupting with the potential to do significant damage to a relationship of any description.

Anger, in particular, is considered one of the dark emotions. For some people, that means negative. On the other hand, no one has ever been a more effective model than Jesus in helping us understand how to wield this emotion in love.

The key to living passionately—a good thing—means we will need to allow the Divine to heal and transform these key emotions. It is unfortunate but true that too many of us have not had loving, healthy, or positive experiences with anger or sexual feelings—ours or others.  

What then, are we to do? Especially those of us who’ve experienced the pain of being misunderstood when we were behaving with intensity or passion?

We need to be vigilant. Vigilant in the awareness of what we are trying to communicate. 

Vigilant as to the mental or emotional state of the person(s) with whom we are interacting. 

Vigilant with regard to the areas of our thoughts and emotions that are wounded and in need of healing and transformation. Said another way, those thoughts and feelings we are aware of on some level that have the potential to render harm to another.

From a Christian perspective, absent passion, we wouldn’t have the gift of a Savior. Or that of Death and Resurrection. Or, for that matter, the Sacred Scriptures which we can hold in our hands.

Don’t tamp down the intensity or passion. Don’t stop speaking the Truth in Love, even when it may not be well-received on the other end.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t believe the lie that to be intense or passionate is something reserved only for the wickedly rebellious, the highly literate, or the spotlessly holy.

Have I ever been misunderstood when being intense or passionate?

How do I feel about allowing these behaviors to inhabit future choices or actions?

Am I open to allowing the Divine to heal, restore, and transform any/all of my emotions?

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