It is an interesting question, one that at first glance you might respond to flippantly. Yet I propose that you stop for a moment and think with me.
I am a huge fan and avid follower of Dr. Bren’ Brown. I just finished her book “Rising Strong.” Which I highly, highly recommend for anyone on the journey of learning to live better. There is a chapter in her book where she personally has to answer the question “Is everyone doing their best?”
I recently was with a group of people and we were having a very deep conversation about forgiveness. There was a shared experience among this group and each had hurt and pain that they shared with tears and anger. The question became how do we move forward in forgiveness. Yet the conversation would turn to statements like “well, she did this and she did that.” Or “how can she keep doing this to us over and over?” Or “It is her own fault.” I stopped the group and asked this question: “Do you believe we are all doing the best we know how to do?” The question was met with hesitation, and what probably most of our responses would be, well No! People are not doing the best they know how. Yet I would ask you to stop and reconsider.
It was the great Maya Angelou who said,
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
My oldest brother came to a stark realization when he hired a young man right out of college as a Construction Manager for his company, Joel Coggins Construction in Tulsa, Ok. My brother tells me, “I could not believe the amount I did not know about my own field that I have been in for over 20 years.” He proceeded to say “You do not know, what you do not know.”
What will stop hate and unforgiveness, what will allow compassion to flow and kindness to reign? What will allow you to experience the people around you instead of judge them? What will make grace abound in your heart richly and love for your brother to bind you together. What will create connection, which we all long for and break down walls?
When our view of people reflects this: “They are doing the best they KNOW, how to do.” I believe then our disposition will become one of love, grace, forgiveness and connection.
I recently was at a pool with my 5 year old son and he wanted to jump off the diving board. I told him he could. I was caught up in a conversation (if you know me, I love a good conversation.) I did not go over to the diving board with him. My son who is new to all this jumped off the board before the girl in front of him was safely to the side. He hit the girl when he jumped in. I did not see what happened and had to slowly piece together everything as the life guard blew his whistle and had everyone exit. An incident report was written, it became a whole big shebang. I was told/yelled at by 2 different ladies that my son “was not listening to the life guard and that the life guard had “got on to him” 2 times and he did not listen.” I have to admit, I wish dearly I had this moment back, as I became kind of momma bear-ish. Yet as I finally pieced together everything that happened, I apologized to the lady in charge and I was finally met with compassion from lady # 3. She said “He did not know any better, sometimes that is just how we learn.”
And this my friends is exactly right. What happened that day was my 5 year old son went off the diving board for the 2nd time in his life. Mom had not taught him yet about waiting till the person in front of him was to the side of the pool or watching the lifeguard to make sure it is okay to jump. My little Ky Ky, with the best heart in the world, told me “momma, I never heard the life guard say anything to me and that girl she was waaaaay under the water.” He did not KNOW any better. Yet he was met with severe judgment as if he defiantly jumped after the lifeguard told him not too.
How many times do we meet each other with this same severe judgement. Be it how another mom is parenting or how someone talks to us at the grocery store. Looking at our nation and the hate and turmoil that is taking place, I beg you, I pled with you…teach your children, examine your heart, share with those around you my friends because if we KNOW better, we will LIVE better.