Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's the REAL Story

Once upon a time, a youthful-looking, middle-aged woman was in an office visiting with her ecclesiastical leader.  Just making conversation the man said, "How many children do you have?"

"Three," said the woman.

The man looked up disapprovingly and took a lecturing tone. "Children are a blessing," he said.

The woman nodded.  I don't know exactly what happened in the complete exchange, but the woman felt chastised for having had such a small family and felt that this man was suggesting she should quickly have more children.

But he was passing judgement without knowing the whole story.  First, he assumed, incorrectly, that she was still within child-bearing years.  Second, he figured that the woman had deliberately had a small family so that children wouldn't inconvenience her. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

He didn't know of her desire to have a large family, the miscarriage and years of infertility.  But it also wasn't any of his business.  So, she didn't share this with him, but merely left slightly wounded.

I think that most of us have had this happen to one extreme or another.  Someone takes one piece of information that is fact and extrapolates a story that doesn't exist, assuming the worst of us and injuring us in the process.  But we must forgive them, because their ignorance puts them in a category of, "they know not what they do."

Very often, we feel like this woman, where we could tell them the story and correct their judgement of us.  But in the long run, it's just none of their business.

Now the harder thought is, do we do this to others?  I have.  I remember hearing of a ward member who was hospitalized after complications from cosmetic surgery.  This didn't agree with what I knew of this woman and I felt so confused.  How could she be so vain? One day I learned that she had had cosmetic surgery as a result of treatments for a medical problem that left her deformed.  The cosmetic surgery was only to correct the deformation.

The reality is that we should all cut each other a little slack and not assume that because we know one fact, that we know the REAL story.


Sandy White said...

Oh my goodness. Was this in Utah? I can't believe how quickly people judge one another for their choices. The thing is, is that we shouldn't judge people no matter *what* the reason. JB and I have decided that we are only going to have two children, and I hope that we are never judged for our decision. We just feel that is what is best for our family. If we were in Utah, I'd be afraid that we would be totally ostracized. It's funny, because out here, three is considered the norm, or maybe even on the larger side. Most of my friends here at work just have one or two kids.

Kari said...

Seriously. The last two years have made me learn this same lesson. Now I try not to judge at all. And when I felt inspired to have my kids not play with some neighbor kids recently it hit me really hard. But I did listened and obeyed while hating every minute of it. It's for a reason and I am thankful.

But seriously, people do not know how they sound.