There Are a Jillion Sides to Every Story

I was sitting with a friend recently and she started sharing about the mess and pain going down publicly between two people in our community that is impacting all of us. It wasn’t in a gossipy kind of way but more of a ‘it’s hard on everyone, including her’ kind of a way. And when these kinds of things come up, because they do, they come up because we do life with people and when something goes down like a divorce or a friendship break up or a work firing or what have you, so many people are impacted.

And it’s so easy to venture towards gossip but it’s also so easy to pick sides. Bruce caused it. It’s Suzy’s doing. If you knew the real story. No, if you knew the real story. Of course, one person can share their side based on the person they know and the other can share another side, based on the person they know. We could feel strongly about who is wrong and who is right or who is the victim and who is the offender. And we could be confident that our perspective is the reality. We could argue or press our point or try to convince the other that our story is the true story.

We could continue to believe that we think we have the inside intel on who did what, when and how and who should say sorry and on and on. We could agree to disagree. We could say, “There are two sides to every story.”

Or we could all just find ourselves in these kinds of circumstances and actually say, “There are a jillion sides to every story.”

I wonder if Jesus knew there are a jillion sides to one story and that’s why He said in Luke 6, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

There is context. There is history. There are past wounds. There are present triggers. There are broken systems with broken consequences. There are assumptions. There are hidden insecurities. There are misunderstandings. There are family secrets. There are unwritten rules. There is religious baggage. There is fear. There is undiagnosed and diagnosed mental illness. There are beliefs. And there are principles and principalities that we cannot see.

When two people in your family, in your friendship circle, or your spiritual community have what I call a ‘wounded collision,’ there are so many things at play. It’s not usually just one person bleeding all over another. Usually, my wounds trigger yours or your past pain triggers my current fear. We are a very complex people.

Maybe the person we judge has been through abuse we cannot even fathom. Maybe they have been manipulated by a spiritual mentor and the reason they lash out is because it’s the only way they know to keep themselves safe. Maybe the person we judge was given misinformation from someone who should have been a trusted source and acted on it as though it were true. Maybe they are overly sensitive because their needs were never paid attention to as a child.

I have no idea what is going on with the person you judge and I have no idea what is going on with the person I judge. And man, it’s so flippin’ easy to judge. It’s so easy to hear a story and claim a story. It’s so easy to pick sides. It’s so easy to take a he-said, she-said and own one as gospel.

But Jesus warns us, do not judge. I think Jesus wants to remind us how very limited we are in understanding the complexities of a human being, let alone two that collide. I think Jesus hopes we trust Him to do the judging because His knowledge is infinite. His understanding none can fathom. His ways are higher than our ways. When we let God do the judging, that frees us to take on different roles. Maybe we can be the ones who pray. Maybe we can be a safe space and a listening ear. Maybe we can serve those who are hurting.

But must we pick a side?

There are after all a jillion sides to every story.

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