Whenever you flip the coin, you may rest assured that if you didn’t guess the right ‘landing’, the correct one was on the other side. Life is very much like the flip of a coin and it would do us well to remember there are always two sides to every story just as there are two sides to every coin.
It’s been years since this revelation came to me but one of those that I can honestly say I rank up there in the top 5. That one has been the source of advice to others on more occasions than I care to remember. It’s good advice so I keep on giving it. Many a person has tried to elicit me ‘on their side’ with long and drawn out explanations meant to paint their picture in my mind and thus attempting to gain a compassionate comrade in their plight. It use to work and work very well I’m ashamed to say. Fortunately, agree with me or not, it usually takes being on the ‘flip’ side of that story before the truth and revelation hits home and does so for good. That’s the ‘fortunate’ part of the sentence. For once learned, it’s like riding a bike. You never forget it.
Once one has mastered the art of remembering this at every turn or at every conversation, you’re on a much better foothold. On one side, there’s listening to someone regale you with their unpleasant situation. On the other, being the one who has been the butt of someone’s incorrect information being passed along to others. What to do, you may ask? Thank you … I’m glad you did! However, I don’t think you’re going to like my answer.
Nothing! Okay … not actually nothing, but certainly not what your first instinct tells you to do. Let’s take the case of hearing someone going on and on about the plight at hand. Every ounce of their detail may indeed be true but, as I said earlier, it would serve us well to remember, there’s most likely someone or many someones involved that have a part in that story as well. Offering advice to a person when you don’t have all the facts … and I do mean ALL the facts, is not usually a wise course of action. While it’s fine to offer a compassionate ear, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you must take sides. A true friend would not ask that of you. If it’s their hope that you’ll intervene as a mediator, well then that can be a positive thing but only if it’s welcomed from all parties involved. If not, stay out of it. Be a friend or a listening ear but shy away from taking all they say at face value.
In the case where you find yourself on the flip side of that coin and someone has come to you with the full intention of reading you the riot act and they don’t have all (or often most) of the facts, then again, what must you do? If they have chosen to not come in a calm and open minded manner, that should give you your first sign and only listening will suffice. If there is no intention on their part to find out all the facts before rendering said riot act, this is what I suggest and you’re not going to like it. It pretty much falls into the same category as the other scenario. Nothing! Generally when a person has already formed an uninformed opinion, little you say will change their mind. You can try, but most likely it will end in a heated debate or argument that will escalate into far more than where it started from.
I think one of the areas that cause us to not remain calm in either situation is when it involves our faith. When our faith is called into question, we’re quick to jump to the defense of our beliefs. Righteous indignation isn’t often seen as very righteous. What my faith calls me to do is to consider myself blessed. “Huh? What did you say … blessed? Surely I heard you wrong”, you may say. No. It’s true. When Jesus spoke to his disciples in what’s widely known as The Beatitudes, we’re told that, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:10-12 This is the ‘nothing’ part I spoke of. It’s hard, believe me I know. One of those ‘easier said than done’ things. You’ll be quick to want to lash back and defend yourself but remember, God also stated, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14 I’d rather let God do the battle in this area for I will fall far short and end up not edifying Him.
Now I know that not everyone can swallow this. For me it’s a lesson learned and one that rears it’s ugly head often enough to keep it as a fresh reminder. But, if you put forth some of what I’ve said, you will find peace. Maybe not with another individual but definitely with you and most definitely with God. Whether you are in the position of lending a listening ear or in the position of unjustified accusations, remember this. Not everyone understands what you now do…that the coin has two sides. Knowing this gives you the advantage. No matter the side of the coin or the scenario, you be the peacemaker. Do nothing and let it go.