Monday, January 13, 2014
Do we really need to know the whole story?
My husband and I dined this past week with a couple who are well into their 80’s. A very handsome couple who are always ready with a smile and a compliment. The husband is quite a joker and the wife has an incredibly caring heart.
This couple loves to tell stories. First, we’d get a little of the background, and then on with the narrative. What was so striking was that in the backstory, we’d learn new information about this couple. Sometimes it was something tragic, a loss, or even a change that was thrust upon them by circumstances beyond their control. But here they were, smiling and telling tales that made the writer inside of me itch for my laptop.
Looking at this couple, you wouldn’t have known or even had guessed many of these life events this couple experienced. It goes to show that everyone has a story.
Our stories shape us – maybe for the better, maybe for the worse. One thing is true – we don’t know what it’s like to live someone else’s story.
Perhaps, that’s why we’ve been told not to judge others (Matt 7:1-2). How often have we looked at a situation and determined what is exactly wrong with someone and what that person should do to fix their life? But do we really know the whole story?
Perhaps even, that’s why Jesus suggests kindness instead of retaliation (Matt. 5:39). What if that rude cashier’s husband passed away last week?
Jesus also teaches us to freely give to those in need (Matt. 5:42). Or would we rather decide that ‘needy’ people are lazy or freeloaders? Do we really know the shame a seemingly ‘normal’ person faces when their mental health renders them unemployable? Would generosity ruin them or rather drive them to the love of Christ?
Jesus also suggests that we love everyone – even those unkind to us (Matt. 5:43-47). Or would we rather own the right to strike back? After all they deserve it because we’ve never done anything wrong (*cough*).
I’m guilty of more than I’d like to admit. Since working for a non-profit organization three years ago, I’ve been brought to tears of shame when those in a state of need have shared their whole story. This ‘education’ has caused me to look back over my life. How I’ve judged and assumed—decided who needed my help and who didn’t.
This why I so desperately need the teachings of Christ. In Matthew 25, He instructs us feed the hungry and the thirsty, invite in the stranger, clothes those who need it, take care of the sick, and visit the prisoner.
Let Him be the judge. Let us obey.
- Cherie Gagnon