Posted by: ritagone | February 1, 2012

Two Sides to a Story

Recently I have come to see what happens when there are the proverbial “two sides to a story.”

We have dear friends who we’ve known for many years, who have been a part of our lives, who we’ve shared life with, wept, prayed, and laughed with, watched as their children have been born and grown up, helped them make major decisions as to the adoption of two children, career changes, and moving from California to another state.  Even today, when we see them, which is not nearly enough, the re-connection is instant and sweet.  Lots of catching up to do, but it happens quickly and with shared time, no one monopolizing the opportunity to tell what is important in each other’s lives.

I love this couple.  I couldn’t love them any more if they were my own children.

Michael has worked as a volunteer over the last few years for a ministry that ministers to orphaned children in Uganda, one of many that feeds, houses, clothes and educates the many casualties of a nation torn by war and strife.  Several times Michael has gone to Uganda with our son Matthew to help with various projects that are part of their combined skill-set: setting up video and recording equipment for the local church in one of the villages so that the pastor’s sermons can be captured and shared with the outlying communities.  As a result, Michael’s heart resonates with this ministry, and the founder and leader of it is a man dear to his heart.

So when this ministry was looking for an American to fill a particular role and our friend’s name came up, was this going to be a good match or not?  There were some reasons why it might be, some why it might not, but apart from anything Michael did or said, the job was eventually offered to him.  And for almost three years, he worked hard and long, with great passion and integrity.

But as things so often happen in ministry, eventually the wheels came off of this working relationship.  We found out when our friend came to our area once again for a funeral and shared with us what was going on.  As a result of his prayers and deliberations with his wife, he resigned from this ministry, with a heavy heart and with no back-up plan for his future.  He just felt in his heart that it was the right thing to do, for one reason because the people in leadership in the ministry weren’t completely behind him.

What would you do?

Who knows?

At any rate, he flew back home after the funeral, and that was the end of it for a time, for us, because, as things go, we went back to our life, and he and his family began a new time of searching for what God has for him for the future.

Meanwhile, several months later, the beloved pastor who founded the ministry, the man whom we also dearly love, came out for a visit, and asked us to meet with him.  His heart was heavy because of what had happened, and, knowing that we were close to the man who had recently departed his organization, he wanted to get our input.  In listening to him tell his tale of what had happened, we saw that we were hearing two completely different stories.  Neither one was wrong.  Neither one was evil.  It was just two perspectives of the same situation, seen from different angles with different eyes.  The Rashomon effect.  (Remember the classic Japanese movie “Rashomon”?)

Irreconciliable differences.

It’s a broad cause for divorce these days.  Sometimes it’s also a sad reason for two loving, spiritual believers to part ways.  Sad but true.  This is what we saw as we have talked to both parties in this situation.  Right and wrong on both sides.  No one demonized or completely bad or good.  Just humans being human, everyone doing the best they can.

To get political for a second ( and how can you not in these recent months?), last night was the Florida primary): Mitt Romney beat Newt Gingrich pretty resoundingly.  I watched Romney’s speech in which he accepted the win graciously and promised what a winner typically does: more wins in future primaries, preparation for defeating the actual enemy (the President), and many thanks to those who helped gain the state after the loss of South Carolina.  Then, about an hour later, I watched Newt Gingrich’s speech.  Talk about two sides to the story!  As one commentator stated later, “What world was he speaking from?”  Gingrich talked as if he had won.  He never congratulated Romney on his win of the state.  He talked about what his first day in the White House would be like, what his plan for governing is.  It was the speech of a winner, not a loser.

I use this political situation as a final illustration to the fact that there is almost always two sides to a story, not to represent one candidate over another.  I have my preference, but my point here is that all too often in life, when you look at a situation, you can see it from two sides.

So I guess a word of warning or caution is required here.  As the great songwriter/singer Joni Mitchell did and told us to do: “I’ve looked at life from both sides now.”

Sometimes that’s the least you can do before you make a decision or form an opinion.  Then…go for it.

Because most of the issues of life finally do require that you and I take a side.  We just need to realize that there is almost always another side that feels just as strongly about its position.

 

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Responses

  1. Great stuff, Rita. I truly believe that the leaders of all the very diverse political parties think they represent what is right and good for America. I don’t have to agree with any or all of them, but it’s my responsibility to respect them, and to be informed myself, so that I have a right to an opinion. I would be wise to follow the old advice: speak less and listen more.


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