Years ago I was told a simple truth that changed everything: the best way to understand people is through stories. Here is a video that eloquently expresses that profoundly insightful premise.
Whenever you encounter a person, you encounter all of who they are and have ever experienced.
Every conversation they’ve ever had.
Every emotion they’ve ever felt.
Every memory they hold in their heart.
Every conflict they’ve ever engaged in.
Every hope they’ve ever dreamed.
Every disappointment they’ve ever endured.
Every belief they’ve ever claimed.
Every relationship they’ve ever known.
Every limitation they’ve ever struggled with.
Every adversity that’s ever come their way.
Every grace that, amazingly, has saved them.
It’s all there. All of that and more. Inside the body you can see is the soul you can't see, except as that soul inhabits, reveals, and expresses itself through the body.
There’s a person in there. All of the person. A person with a story.
What if you made it your purpose to see that person? To see them without judgment. To see a person who’s encountered whatever they’ve encountered.
To do that, you only need to make it safe for the person to tell their story. Once you know that story, you say, ”Of course. It all makes perfect sense. Now I understand.”
Every person has a story. And every story longs to be shared.
Question: Tell us about an experience you’ve had of “seeing” a person.
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G.P.’s mom was acting funny one night when he was 10. He and his brother couldn’t put their finger on it, but she kept coming in, checking on them, anxiously. They couldn’t or wouldn’t go to sleep, but they kept their heads down. She couldn’t do it to them while they were awake, then she couldn’t wait any longer, pulling the trigger on a gun killing their infant sister, then herself.ReplyDelete
Growing up in a small town everybody knew you. And your story. G.P. put his head down and studied hard, ignored what might have been said all his life behind his back, and became Valedictorian of his high school at 16. He caught the next train out of town, headed west not sure where he would go to college, got out in Nashville and went to Vanderbilt.
While at Vanderbilt war broke out. G.P. was not a physicist but was recruited to work on a secret project but turned it down, as he didn’t think it had much of a future. That project was the atom bomb.
G.P. enlisted and was possibly the youngest Lieutenant in the US Navy. Young Lieutenants were not loved. He kept his head down, operating one of the earliest computers, calculating the aim of missiles.
G.P. never learned cared to play politics, or how to manage long term relationships for that matter. G.P. demonstrated symptoms of a sociopath.
Those sociopathic behaviors weighed heavy on all those close to him, especially family. The family didn’t understand him, but though responding with anger at first, ultimately forgiveness was the key response. Unfortunately forgiveness wasn’t enough, as the sociopathic abuses continued. The forgiveness tended to promote enabling.
Ultimately, forgiving until the end, I had to choose to not allow G.P., my father, into my life, as by now he was now deliberate in negatively impacting my own growing family. I had been looking, staring, deep into his soul for years, decades now. I had to deny him access. I know it was the right thing to do, just as I knew forgiving him was the right thing to do.
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