Ever been convinced something is true, only to discover there is, indeed, another logical explanation? I admit, it’s easier for me to point out this oh-so-human flaw in others, and I know a few people who routinely will stubbornly insist they are right, regardless of the possibility there is another way of looking at the situation.
Moments ago I was proven wrong about something that seemed so clear to me…okay, I knew my suggestions were off-the-wall, but there honestly was a logic to them. And who knows, in the future someone might say, “hey, she was right…I’ll be darned!” I’m not counting on it, but it has happened in the past.
I try not to judge others, and one of the biggest reasons why is this: we simply don’t have all the information. No matter how wise, sophisticated or informed you may believe yourself to be, you are not omniscient. You are limited in your view of the world by your experience.
One friend of mine practically spits if you mention Melania Trump.
Now, I’m not a fan of our president, never have thought he was anything but a buffoon. I can’t imagine being married to him (the thought of that makes me spit), and neither can my friend. Yet just because we see nothing desirable in the man doesn’t mean some other woman won’t find him attractive.
I hear the laughter — let me finish —
Seriously, while my friend thinks Melania married Donald strictly for his money, I say this: I don’t know the woman. I don’t know why she married him. I don’t know what he was like when he was courting her. You get my point. Maybe the money was the strongest draw, maybe not. I would guess she never genuinely anticipated being First Lady, and that’s a role with a high cost, so I have some sympathy for her. My friend does not; she thinks she got what she deserved.
That’s the kind of judgment I pray you never hear me make about another.
I was the victim of some harsh judgment several years ago,
and I lull myself to sleep many nights thinking how my accusers may have fallen in their pursuit of evidence of my non-existent wrongdoing. They spent a lot of time and money chasing after this information, and someone, somewhere along the line, must have said, “what the hell are you doing?” because they never dug up the dirt they were certain was within their grasp. There must have been enough misinterpreted data along the way for them to continue in this fruitless pursuit, and I imagine they fell victim to their own limited viewpoint when evaluating the facts.
Knowing human nature, and in particular, knowing the individuals involved, they never did give up believing I was guilty of some wrong-doing. Perhaps they are still waiting for me to trip up.
I’m not suggesting
we remain so open-minded we become gullible, victims of our own consideration. There is a point where we know enough to draw reasonable conclusions. It’s when we think we know more than we actually do that we’re most likely to judge others. The biggest danger is judging people who are more acquaintances than friends, or assessing situations in which we are dabblers, not experts.
Nothing is as it seems…so judge not, lest ye be judged.
One of my best friends’ heart is breaking this week.
Her younger brother is dying of cancer; he may be gone by the time you read this. He was diagnosed several years ago and immediately went in for surgery. After the surgery, he developed an infection, which prevented him from getting chemotherapy in a timely manner. Despite that, once he did receive that treatment it initially seemed to be successful, however, eventually the cancer spread, and he will lose his battle.
He is a man of faith,
and while this is not a blog about spiritual things, it’s important to know I share his faith and look forward to an eternity of fullness with God. I speak of it here only because for a long time I wondered if I really believed in an afterlife. Faith is a funny thing. You speak the words, but do you believe them? When I learned how close this young man was to death, my immediate thought was, soon he will be with his Savior. My faith, thankfully, is real.
My friend, Laurie, has faced so much in recent years. I don’t know how she bears it, but she does it with grace and humor. And probably the occasional meltdown. About seven or eight years ago her husband Dave, whose mental state had been failing steadily throughout their marriage, was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. He was on the verge of death when he had his surgery. Fortunately, he’s had an incredible recovery from that trauma — and it is a trauma, don’t let the word benign fool you — but his troubles weren’t over.
Sometimes the hits keep coming.
About the time Laurie’s brother was declared cancer-free, before it came back with a vengeance, and maybe four years after her husband’s brain surgery, Dave was diagnosed with the exact same kind of cancer her brother had. She was in shock. Thankfully, mercifully, his treatment went beautifully, and he was cancer-free at the end of the chemo treatments.
Except — wait — a brand-new tumor developed three months later. So they started all over again. By this time they knew her brother was in dire straits, and while Dave’s situation still looked a whole lot better, it was cancer. Cancer is a bitch.
Oh, I forgot to mention. During this entire time Laurie’s mom’s health was steadily failing. She died last December.
Dave is cancer-free now and we’re believing the best.
It can be a lonely journey sometimes.
Those of you who’ve been through this sort of thing know the myriad of challenges that come along with trials like these. Laurie has had to take time off of work and that has put a strain on her relationship with her employer. Their finances have taken a hit.
The golden moments have come from their children. Their incredible daughter will be a junior in college next year and their adorable son graduates from high school shortly. Thank God for healthy, happy children, although Laurie is aware there are probably issues from the time Dave’s mental state was deteriorating.
There are people in our lives who face a far greater share of life’s challenges than others well before they should. Laurie had more than a few burdens to bear before this as well, but her faith, her family, her friends have carried her through the hard times.
I went through a hell myself of an entirely different sort several years ago and she was there for me. We need people who have faced the fire and survived to help keep us strong. How unfair that seems, so let me be strong for my friends in return.
When I was just under two years old, I feared nothing. Okay, not true. The only way I’d go down the slide was on my tummy, feet first, so apparently my fear of heights started early. But feeding ducks? Couldn’t get me to do that today (what if they bit me?) but as a toddler, if Grandpa told me it was okay, I was a trusting soul.
Admittedly, it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did, I was all in.
Not too many people I trust that implicitly any more, I’m afraid. I’ve learned there’s value in counsel from many, and accepting the advice of one person in a life-changing situation, no matter how adamant they may be that they are right, is rarely the wise thing to do.
It takes me time to process things. Sometimes someone will make a suggestion and I’ll dismiss it out of hand. If they push it, I’ll push back, and get angry, defensive. I need time to think it through. Later I may come back and say, “hey, what about…?” and make the same suggestion they did only days before, frustrating the bejeebers out of them.
Other times I know I’m right, and I’ll push back, and that, too, will irritate my friends, who don’t see the difference. Not long ago I had a friend who, in all sincerity, thought I was taking a situation “too seriously” and not looking at things “the way they really are.”
I was living the situation; he wasn’t. I knew just how serious it was. He was frustrated because of my perceived attitude; I was equally perturbed by his stubborn refusal to accept my experience as valuable in evaluating the situation.
I struggle, daily, with important decisions. I seek advice from friends and family, and I look at past decisions, I write blog posts (some published, some not) about what I would or would not like to see happen.
There are aspects of my life I want changed now and things I want to change in the future. I lie awake at night thinking about what I need to do to protect my future, and worrying some things will never change if I don’t take baby steps.
Some days I take the baby steps, then I forget to do so again for months at a time, losing any momentum I may have gained.
Moving forward is an ever-challenging, often exasperating, sometimes exhausting, yet ultimately exhilarating practice. It can happen slowly, then suddenly speed up and leave you spinning.
I never want to stop moving forward, growing and achieving personal freedom as a result. For me, it requires re-evaluation every so often, and I’m doing that now.
I have friends, true friends, who have stood by me when I fully believed they would walk away, and frankly, they had every right to, given the perceived circumstances. But I was more important than my presumed actions, and they stood by who I’d proved to be, not who others claimed I was.
You find out who your friends are when you have nothing left to hold on to but the people in your life.
It isn’t as though there weren’t clues beforehand about the coming betrayal, but sometimes we’re blind to them for one reason or the other, and other times we’re naïve in our beliefs. I always trusted authority, and now I shake my head at that foolish blind faith. I haven’t completely lost my trust of those in charge, but I’m much more cautious, far less willing to believe they’re always worth my confidence.
Shortly before the man I believed was my friend turned on me, I had a vivid dream of a wolf wearing a mask, dancing on a dark road. There were other elements, dark, foreboding images I’ve since forgotten. Far, far down that road were some white flowers.
While I didn’t, and for the most part still don’t, believe in dream interpretation, this one was so vivid I decided to look up the imagery. It was clear: someone close to me was going to betray me. But the white flowers meant there was hope further along the way.
I haven’t lost my confidence in everyone. In fact, in some ways I’m still the same person, inclined to believe in and trust others. But I’m wary, and yes, a little angry.
I’m clinging to that hope. Things are better, but they are not what they should be, and the future frightens me. This is where my faith kicks in. I’ve had faith most of my life, but I’ve never had to draw on it like I do now, to say: I trust in God, a God who provides for me, a God who conquers with faith, hope and love. And I trust in those friends who’ve stood by me when I needed them most.