Oh the stories we tell ourselves!


I have a friend who is a counselor, and she constantly says to me, “We don’t know s***.”

If I start to tell her my take on a given relationship, or why I think someone else did something, or my views about what must be going on in that family over there …. she will calmly turn to me and say, “We don’t know s***!”

It took me some time but I think I’m starting to get it. You see, I consider myself a smart guy. And maybe you also think of yourself as a smart person? That you, like me, have the ability to look into another person’s world and just intuitively know what’s going on. Right? We’ve been around the block a time or two. Been observers and lived long enough to have a good handle on life. Right?  We know what makes another person tick? Why someone parents the way they do. Why someone has road rage. Right? We can size up a situation and know what someone else really meant; their motives; their guilt or innocence. Right? We know exactly what’s going on and can judge accordingly. Hmmmmmm. Or do we?

My friend says, “We don’t know s***.”

I know it may sound a bit heretical, but I think my friend sounds like Jesus would if He were sitting next to us as we attempt to tell Him what we think is happening in other people’s lives. Of course I don’t think Jesus would use profanity; but I do think He would have the same basic answer. That all we truly know is what makes us tick. Why we have road rage. Why we raise our kids the way we do. Why we react the way we do. We don’t know diddly-squat about anyone else or know what their life’s story might be.

All we know is what we know. What we do not see is volumes more than what we do see.

What I’m trying to say is that all we know is our own story. So before we go telling ourselves stories about other people’s lives, we’d all do well to wait before we jump to conclusions … conclusions that may or may not even remotely resemble reality.  1 Thessalonians 4:11 says,

“Stay calm; mind your own business, do your own job. You’ve heard all of this before, but a reminder never hurts. Live in a way that will command the respect of others; attend to your own business and work with your hands.”

“Attend to your own business” … perhaps this is the genesis of the cliché, “Idle hands are the devil’s handiwork!”  Instead of speculating about what may or may not be going on in someone else’s world, let’s simply offer prayers for those around us. Offer a prayer to God in heaven, Who gladly hears your prayer and loves your compassionate heart.

Prayers for us all as we continue to become who it is God is calling us to be.

Peace friends,


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  • Pinkey carney says:

    I’ve spent my whole life realizing I didn’t know s@@@! When I was a teenager I got on a bus with a black woman, Leona, that worked for a lot of people in my neighborhood. I used to talk to Leona every time I saw her, which was just about every day…..on this day she got on the back of the bus (as black people had to do in those days) and I got on with her because we were having a conversation. The bus driver stopped the bus and told me I had to move to the front of the bus….I said no thank you I am happy where I am…he continued to say I had to move because I was white…I said there is no sign that says white people can’t sit in the back of the bus if they choose to sit there and I wasn’t moving. I rode the rest of the bus ride, about 45minutes, talking to Leona. When we started to leave each other Leona told me I would never understand what it meant to be black because I would always have the choice to sit in the front or the back of the bus….this was the beginning of so many changes in my life….I hadn’t walked in Leona’s shoes…..and I didn’t know s@@@ about living her life!! My life changed that day because of this wise woman.

  • Nancy Forrester says:

    I agree with your friend’s statement, we really Don’t know s***. We recently had an unfortunate incident with bullying, and I was trying to explain to my kids that Bullies are usually that way for a reason, not just because they are mean. I asked them to try to understand that we never know what’s going on in someone else’s home, or in their lives, and that most of the time they may just be reacting to something, to a home situation or perhaps they are being mistreated themselves, or maybe they just need a friend. This is a slightly different spin on it, but I think it’s still an important idea.

  • Martha mikeska says:

    Having been down all day about miscommunications with my son and daughterinlaw,I really needed this just now. I don’t know s###. Just have to trust the Spirit & pray not to be vindictive.

  • Tom Gerard says:

    I think you are on to something. I like to believe the first step in loving your neighbor is to listen to him or her. That is truly the only way to know how he/she feels. Our typical reaction when seeing a homeless person is to try to find him/her a shelter. But maybe that is not what the person really wants or needs. If we would listen to their story, we might find out something quite different. Bishop Estabrook used to say what they really want is someone to listen to them.

    I might disagree with one statement: “That all we truly know is what makes us tick.” I don’t think most of us even know what makes us tick. Some who do, don’t believe it and try to be someone else. I think that is where counselors can help people to learn what makes them tick.

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