Getting Our Facts Straight

Have you ever learned of a situation and reacted to it without exploring it further, only to find out that you would have been better served had you taken a moment to get your facts straight first?  Yeah, me too!  In fact, that happened to me just last weekend.

It’s so easy to get a partial story and immediately complete the rest of the story in our heads.  And it happens surprisingly fast too!  However, it usually doesn’t take that long to validate whether the story we’re telling ourselves is actually true. 

What I learned from last weekend was that I need to slow down and realize when I’m filling in my own details to a partial story I’ve been given.  Once I realize that I’m making assumptions, I need to do the work to determine whether they are true or not.

It’s a waste of time to react to a something that may not even be accurate.  Let’s commit to not wasting any more time reacting to our own assumptions, but instead make sure our facts are straight before we chart a course of action.  We’ll be better positioned to respond appropriately when we have a clear understanding of the scenario we’re dealing with.

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Different Lives

As part of my kick off to the shorter days and darker nights of the fall season, I’ve begun reading a couple hours in the evening before bed most weeknights. The last 2 books I’ve read have been autobiographies, and from them, I’ve been reminded (of the obvious) that people have different backgrounds and experiences than I have.

The first book I read was from a man whose father was Nigerian and whose mother was from Kansas.  The focus of the book was on the influences of the 7 “fathers” this man had in his life that shaped and mentored him into the person he is today. 

The second book (that I’m actually still reading) is about the bass player for the band Guns N Roses, and his journey through music, drugs, addition, and recovery.  Let’s just say that this guy had a wild ride!

What I appreciate about both of these books is that they gave me a glimpse into another person’s life.  From that, I see how their experiences, fears, and desires influenced their thought process, and, ultimately, the choices they made, both when they were younger, and now that they’re older.

When I learn about the experiences, challenges, and struggles other people have faced, whether directly from them, or reading about it in a book, I find that it causes me to be less judgmental, especially when I don’t know their story.  It’s easy to cast judgement through the filter of my own experiences.  Occasionally, those judgements are correct.  More often though, I realize that things aren’t usually as black and white as my experience would say that they are.  I find that my initial snap judgements are often unwarranted, due to my lack of understanding and consideration of their experiences.

I’m grateful for opportunities to learn more about peoples’ lives, either through books or in person.     

A Quick Thought On Getting Along

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the obvious truth that the success and happiness we experience in life is largely due to do with how well we are able to get along with other people.

This truth reminds me that how I treat people and interact with them matters.  If I want assistance, kindness, or grace from others, then I need to offer these things to those around me. 

It seems to me, from my experience on both the giving and receiving end, that life is much better when I’m getting along with fellow-Earthly-travelers, than when I lead with demanding my own way, or thinking that the world revolves around me.  It has been proven multiple times, that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me, or any other single person.

Getting along with others doesn’t mean that I default to capitulating what I want or need, simply for the sake of getting along.  Rather, I see it as being considerate of the needs of others, in addition to my own needs.

Isn’t that what we all want: for others to be considerate of us?  If that’s the case, let’s make sure we’re doing likewise for others.

Trust

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I don’t trust anyone!”?  Have you ever said that yourself?  That comment makes me laugh, because each one of us puts our trust into others more than we realize.

For example, we trust that:

  • Cooks and staff at the restaurants we eat in are observing the proper health and safety procedures related to food storage, handling, and preparation
  • Letter carriers will deliver a correspondence you drop in the mail in an accurate and timely fashion
  • Gas pumps actually pump the type and grade of gasoline listed on the pump, versus diesel, water, or some liquid other that what the pump says.
  • Other drivers will stop when a traffic light is red, go when it’s green, and drive the proper direction in traffic, rather than just going whichever direction in whichever lane they feel like.

In all these examples, and hundreds of other daily scenarios, we are counting on others to be trustworthy.  This thought reminds me that others are expecting us to be trustworthy as well.  Let’s live in a way that the trust others have in us is well-placed.

On Apologizes

This week, I had an interaction with someone where I could have behaved better than I did. What I knew I needed to do was offer an apology. Here’s the thing, when we know we need to make an apology: we can come up with all sorts of reasons not to.

It’s no different for me either. In fact, I was running through several reasons why I didn’t need to make the apology. My lame excused ranged from, “They probably don’t even remember the incident” to “I’ve got other things I need to be doing” to every other excuse in between. I told you they were lame.

In the end, I made the apology before my workday started. I decided it was, indeed, important and needed to be done. The person who I apologized to was gracious and said that they appreciated it.

All that to say, if you owe someone an apology, make it. Don’t wait, or put it off, or think of reasons to keep from doing it, because the person you owe the apology to deserves it.

Knowing and Doing

One of my favorite books in the Bible is James.  What I love most about it is that it is filled with hard-hitting, non-sugar-coated truth.  My favorite verse in this book is   1:22 where the author states, “Don’t merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.  This is a verse I often read as if James was speaking these words directly to me.

It’s easy to gain knowledge about how we SHOULD be behaving.  It’s quite another thing to take the knowledge we gain, and parlay it into action.  What good does it do to gain a bunch of knowledge that is beneficial to us, yet fail to put that knowledge into action?  If we spend a significant period of time (months, years, decades, a lifetime) we’ll wind up being nothing more than a bunch of over-educated under-achievers. 

Here’s a good question for all of us:  Is there some knowledge that I have that I need to put into action in order to see positive results?  If the answer is, “Yes” (which I’m sure it is for most of us), then take a small step today to begin putting that knowledge into action.  Because there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.  Knowing = knowledge.  Doing = results.

Doubling Down

This week’s post has a bent toward those of us who are Jesus followers.  Be forewarned.  😊

My family has been facing some challenging days recently with the passing of a significant family member.  Without going into details, a common question my siblings and I have been asking is, “How should we respond to some of the challenging behaviors of others?”. 

For me, the answer has been, “Double down on Jesus”. 

As a Christian, my goal is to follow Jesus’ teachings as laid out in Scripture, and align my life as closely as I can with Him.  That’s easy to do when things are going well, but it can be a different story when life gets challenging, and Jesus’ teaching feel totally contrary to how the world tells us we should respond or behave. 

When I find myself at this intersection with Jesus and the world, I pose some form of the following question to myself: “Jesus gives us very clear instruction on how we’re to behave as followers of His.  I either believe what Jesus says, or I don’t.  So, which is it?” 

This is the point where I double down on Jesus.

I decide that yes, I DO believe what He says, and, yes, I WILL align myself and my actions with His teaching.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. To the contrary, it’s often very difficult.  However, Jesus never promised that we wouldn’t have difficulty or troubles.  He did promise that He’d be with us when we face them.  I have also found Him faithful in carrying us through difficult times, when we choose to follow Him and be obedient to His teaching, event when it’s difficult.

I’ve also realized that I don’t just need to double down on Jesus when times are tough.  I need to double down on Jesus every single day by spending time with Him, reading my Bible, and applying what I learn. 

Because I either believe what He says, or I don’t… and I do!

Develop Habits and Stick With Them

When things go sideways in life, it’s easy to withdraw, to close off and isolate yourself.  That’s the worst thing we can do.  The best thing we can do is stick to the healthy habits we’ve, hopefully, already established.

For example, when life throws you a curve, continue you to do the following:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Visit friends
  • Attend Church
  • Read
    • Bible
    • For pleasure
  • Partake in hobbies and activities you enjoy
  • Pray
  • Maintain your positive outlook
  • Don’t let the bad circumstance change who you are

This last one is the most important.

I have been reminded of this in the past week, so I thought I’d pass it along to you.  In addition, I encourage you to establish some good habits before you need them.

There’s A Story There

It’s easy to look at a situation and think we have all the facts necessary to make a snap judgement.  Whether it’s a homeless person on the street with a sign asking for money, or certain behavior or opinion we don’t agree with, it amazes me how quickly we can go from observation to judgement, without realizing that there’s a story there.

No matter who you’re looking at, there is a story behind the person that brought them to where they are at that moment.  This story could have been written over years or decades, or maybe even over a few minutes.  These stories can be tragic or triumphant.  They can be unbelievable or even quite ordinary.  Peoples’ stories are as unique and varied as the people they are about.

The thing to remember, especially when we start feeling judgmental, is that we usually don’t know the whole story that shape the people we see.  We think we do, but in reality, we are often just mentally filling in the blanks.  That said, it reminds me that perhaps in place of judgement toward others, we would do better to offer grace and remember that we likely don’t know the whole story.

Smile Because It Happened

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  ~Dr. Seuss

I came across this quote last week and it’s such a great reminder about perspective and also about how to handle ending. Since endings are a part of every life, it feels that this quote from Dr. Seuss is applicable for all of us.

There are a number of things that come to an end:

  • A season of life
  • An event
  • A place we enjoy visiting
  • A business we enjoy frequenting
  • A friendship
  • A life

To be clear, some of the endings on this list are more impactful than others, and deserve tears as part of the healing process.  That said, I think that remembering the experience or the person lost with smile, and gratitude for the experience, helps us move forward in away that allows us to remain open to new people and experiences yet to come.  What a shame it would be to close ourselves off to trying new things or getting close to people because we are afraid of the tears that may come with loss.

Dr. Seuss’s quote also reminds me that I don’t have to wait until something is over to smile about it.  I can do so even while it’s happening.  😊