There are times when we must make choices in our lives that may seem strange or difficult to understand by outsiders looking in. But the old adage “walk a mile in my shoes” is never more pertinent than in those cases, for unless we can state without fear of contradiction that we know absolutely every reason why another person has chosen a particular course of action, we cannot truly understand their motivation.
Any imposition of our own beliefs, or our own experience, will only match up with the true reasons for a particular course of action by the most flukey coincidence. Should we then either believe we know the answer or take the word of someone else who says they do? Or should we take the time to talk to the person about why they did the things they did and therefore educate ourselves with first hand knowledge of their point of view?
It is very easy to jump to conclusions. It is perhaps even easier to accept carte blanche the word of someone we regard as a friend. But in doing that do we actually sell the other person short?
I ask these as rhetorical questions. Any of you who have gone through a marriage break up or who have watched a friend’s marriage disintegrate may well have found yourselves in a situation where you have had to choose one side or the other. In some cases that choice may be an easy one. Perhaps you were a friend of one of the couple before the other, maybe you were the shoulder to cry on for one and not the other, or perhaps one person’s behaviour was anathema to you and you couldn’t find the time to walk in their shoes or to even ask why they did what they did. Maybe it is just easier to deal with things if you are able to place the blame squarely at the feet of one or the other. For blame is itself an explanation and justification in not being able to forgive.
But before you wipe a person off can I suggest that there are always two sides to a story. If your friendship had any value at all, if you cared for both people, do you owe both of them equal time? Do you wipe one off simply because it is easier? Is it done because it seems like less of a betrayal of the one you side with?
One thing I've learnt is that things do not stand still. That life moves on and lives change, what seems broken and confusing one day may have a perfectly rational explanation the next. And truth is something that changes when we change our viewpoint, in an ocean our knowledge of height is simply the distance from the peak of a wave to a trough, standing on top of Everest or at the rim of the Grand Canyon our perspective of height and distance is very different. Imagine then how much more different it would seem from the moon. Place yourself where your friend stands before you wipe him off, before you impose your reality of what height is on him. You may then find it in your heart to forgive and maybe see a way forward where you do not have to choose one over the other. Consider there may be room for both.