Updated: Feb 14
Relationships would be a lot easier if other people were not involved – if it was just us. Although now that I think about it, I still find myself arguing with just me quite often and losing about 2 out of 3 of those arguments.
“What’s their story?” This is a phrase I have started asking myself when I come into a tense situation with another person. The first reaction I usually have is to come back at someone the same way they have come at me. I justify it by saying that I want them to see what they look like.
But when I can take a step back and think about what their story might be, it gives me a second to think before I react. It also helps me realize that, more often than not, the problem is not what it seems. Asking this also question helps remind me that the person may really be hurting and does not know how to deal with it.
I had a situation like this with someone recently. They were really upset with me about something and started yelling at me. I actually took a second to pray and then ask the “What’s their story?” question. It was obvious that what they were yelling about was not actually the root of their anger.
As I talked with them, things started to slowly calm down and we were able to talk about the fact that the issue had nothing to do with me at all, but other things that were going on in their life. I was able to encourage them and let them know I would be praying for them.
I wish I could say I do that in all these types of situations, but I would be sitting on a throne of lies.
Imagine if people handled conflict in our society this way today - if we tried to see things through the other person’s eyes before lashing out and judging. Wow, would that change our political landscape! And it might even ease some of the tensions around so many of these hot topic issues we are dealing with in our society right now.
Matt 22:35-40 tells us, “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Let’s try it this week. Let’s be ready to give people the benefit of the doubt, listen to them, ask the question, “What’s their story?” and treat them the way we would want to be treated.