Hero Hubs and I experienced a bit of an unusual situation a few weeks ago. Actually, it might not be particulary unusual, but it felt unusual for us. Basically, our reaction to a particular set of circumstances led some folks to draw some unfair conclusions about us and about our character. I really canâ€™t explain it in much more detail, but when we had a conversation that helped us to realise the conclusions that had been drawn, we were a little shocked, a lot suprised, and a little hurt, too.
As my mind began to process all that had unfolded without our knowledge, I began to think about 1 Corinthians 13, and the description of love, that it believes all things. Since I was pretty sure that verse didnâ€™t simply mean â€œLove is really gullible,â€ I looked at it in a few different translations, and really appreciated how the Amplified Bible explained it: â€œLove … is ever ready to believe the best of every person …â€ (1 Cor 13:7b)
We did our best to explain the actual cause of our actions and reactions, but because we couldnâ€™t explain it to everyone who drew those conclusions, it just kind of felt like a lost cause.
And it made me hungry for us to be the kind of people who demonstrate that 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. Because it is always easiest to believe the worst. A lot of what we take in — the news we hear, read, and watch, the gossip that we pass around — is geared toward believing the worst case scenario…and often assuming that that is the truth, without all the facts.
After the conversation, HH and I quietly processed all that had happened and tried to make sense of it. He mentioned a story he was reminded of, that I thought would be worth retelling here.
As the story goes, at least in this version Iâ€™m coming up with, there was a traveller on the tube in London one day who was getting extremely annoyed and hot under the collar. Heâ€™d had a long day at work, had a fight with his boss that nearly cost him his job, missed the previous train and would therefore be thirty minutes late getting home. And he just didnâ€™t want to be bothered. He just wanted to be home. Another gentleman with his two young sons had hurriedly squeezed on the packed train just as the doors were closing, and his sons were causing a terrible raucous. As other passengers cleared, the father of the boys eventually found a place to sit, and it seemed like he couldnâ€™t care less that his sons were popping the back of the other passengers’ newspapers, bumping people as they played tag in the close quarters, and just generally being a little too boisterous for everyone else.
Perhaps because it was this particular day, the weary traveller had finally had enough, and so he began to work out in his mind exactly what needed to be said to the gentleman in order to set the scene straight. The words responsibility, discipline and respect for others were going to make an appearance in his speech, and he felt certain by the end of his soliloquy the other passengers might give him appreciative nods and glances, maybe even a round of applause. Setting this guy straight might just make his day a little brighter. But as he cleared his throat and prepared to begin, another passenger seemed to have read the scene differently. She looked at the father of the rowdy sons and with the courtesy of a friendly flight attendant simply said,
â€œSir, is everything alright?â€
He looked around as if he were coming to his senses after being in a daydream on another planet. It was as if this were the first moment that he realised his sons were disturbing the other passengers. He looked both troubled and embarrassed, and with a hand nervously touching his forehead, sweeping over his face and then grasping his jaw, he quickly stammered out as best he could…
â€œMy wife…my boys lost their mother this morning. And I, well Iâ€™m not really sure where to from here, except home. Iâ€™m sorry if my boys were … itâ€™s just … I just … Iâ€™m not quite sure how Iâ€™ll do this without her.â€
The first travellerâ€™s shoes suddenly became the most interesting thing heâ€™d seen on the train that day. As he stared humbly at the floor, he was silently thankful he hadnâ€™t had a chance to make his soliloquy after all.
If Iâ€™m honest, I am quick to believe the worst, and I sometimes struggle to believe anything else. I come up with alternative possibilities for why someone said or did this or that, which I canâ€™t even half believe in my own mind, and which lead me to the eventual conclusion that the worst must be the truth, because my tiny mind canâ€™t come up with a possible alternative.
But the lesson I learned in having others believe the worst about HH and me, was how hurtful it can be when you realise people havenâ€™t given you the benefit of the doubt. And as we sat on the couch and tried to process things as best we could, the most important lesson I wanted to take away was Love believes all things. Or better put,
â€œLove… is ever ready to believe the best of every person …â€
Perhaps the person who cut you off in traffic today was on the way to say goodbye to a dying family member at the hospital. Maybe the lady with the wild child in the grocery store just received the news that her husband will be returning from Iraq in a coffin. Maybe her husbandâ€™s in Zimbabwe for a week and sheâ€™s a little out of sorts without him. Could it be that the person who said something behind your back at work is really acting out of past hurts? Or even an abusive relationship in the present tense?
The only truth Iâ€™m sure of is that we donâ€™t know the whole truth yet. We see in a mirror dimly right now…we canâ€™t even see the half of it. But we can still believe the best of every person, and in doing so perhaps encourage them toward being the best they can be.
Has someone ever not believed the best about you? Do you think you can believe the best of others?
Oh how I love the amplified version of that whole verse about love. I have a printed out version and have been carrying it while running lately. But that line…always gets me and always reminds me to think the best of the situation, the person, all of it. because, really, why would I want to dwell on something that is just a potential. Hard to do? oh yeah! I’m definitely still learning and changing how I think, but it’s so worth it and even yesterday I found myself addressing an issue where I was able to say…I assumed the best, but I want to hear it from you anyway 🙂 Oh and I keep reading that story about the man and his boys….so powerful
p.s. sorry your heart was hurt by others’ reactions 🙁
Thanks so much, Katy. I am right there with you :: “still learning and changing how I think” … Lord, help! 🙂
I have to remind myself of this while parenting. It’s so easy to get in a mindset where you feel your children are “out to get you” in a way. You have days where you feel they must be doing things on purpose just to annoy you. However, we have a phrase around here, “Assign positive intent.” It helps you interact with others at church, work, and home in the best manner you can. Before immediately becoming angry or offended, assign positive intent to their actions and then intentionally respond based on that assumption.
Whew, that is wisdom!! Thanks, AB. I might need to put that up somewhere for a while where I can read it and be reminded! xCC