We live in what is undoubtedly the most connected time ever. Within minutes we know about earthquakes and other disasters thousands of miles away. We know when a far-off friend is sick. We can celebrate with our friends and family whether nearby or across the country via Facetime or Skype. All of this occurring in near real time. Which makes the next Dale’s Rules for Life even more important. There’s always more to the story.
Every day we’re bombarded with news stories. Some tragedy, wrongful death, misguided statement, strong accusation, or possibly even an ill-conceived arrest. Our news channels, online news outlets, and our Facebook feed keeps us informed (and often opinionated). There have been multiple stories in the past few years where the initial reports were plain wrong, missing crucial facts, or colored by wounded points of view. We later learned that there was more to the story. But by then our anger or compassion has faded or is so cemented in place that the rest of the story doesn’t matter to us. Myth and legend become the reality.
This rule also applies when our spouse says something hurtful, when our kids are snippy, when a friend neglects our phone calls, when a customer angrily snaps, or when another driver makes a stupid move – there is always more to the story. This rule reminds me to take a step back, ask questions, probe a bit before I jump to conclusions or engage in a verbal battle. More than once Betty’s been short with me about something (and I with her) but the real issue wasn’t that the mustard was put away in the wrong place but that something else was upsetting her.
Jesus famously said (although often misapplied) “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32, NASB95) Ah, but even here there is more to the story because the truth Jesus was referencing is about himself. The truth is that freedom is found in Christ and not in some philosophic concept about truth. Yet, the truth about truth remains. Truth does make us free if we’ll wait to discover the rest of the story. Or perhaps another way to look at it is that truth keeps us from becoming entangled in misguided and ill-informed compassion or anger.
The question is whether we can withhold our reactions, our judgments, and our Facebook posts until the story has a finer resolution and clarity. It is true, we will rarely know all of a story but all too often we speak our minds with only a morsel of it. Truth-seekers will wait, agenda-sellers will leap to conclusions. The key is to remember another well-known saying of Jesus – “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” (Luke 6:31, NASB95) I want people to know my story before they judge me. So… (I’ll let you provide the rest of the equation).