.My coffee was getting cold and the waiter was giving me furtive glances. Where was my new friend? It was our first lunch together and we were supposed to meet 20 minutes ago.
I checked my texts again. Nothing.
Maybe she’s stuck in traffic. But she could still text me. Maybe she’s talking on the phone and can’t text.
I looked out at the parking lot again. Maybe she’s been in an accident.
I furrowed my eyebrow. Maybe she forgot. But we confirmed yesterday….
Maybe she didn’t really want to come!
I could feel my breath quicken. I even felt a little burning in my chest.
That’s it! She stood me up and is too chicken to call me! Well, fine! I’m not going to play games like this! If I’m not important enough to let me know she doesn’t want to see me then why am I even here?!
And then…she blew in. The seating hostess pointed in my direction and she hurried over. I was surprised to see her hair and makeup were disheveled.
“Hey! What happened?” I asked.
“I’ve spent 20 minutes looking for my phone! I never did find it!” she said. During the next 10 minutes I heard about the past 40, with her apologizing profusely several times.
The more I listened, the worse I felt.
I had gathered my “evidence,” put her on trial, and convicted her all before I laid eyes on her. There hadn’t been anything in our, albeit, short history to indicate she would stand me up, yet I had had followed my own baseless thoughts clear through to the worst possible conclusion.
I also now had heartburn, a slight headache, and higher blood pressure.
It would have been better to have given her the benefit of the doubt.
According to dictionary.cambridge.org,, to give the benefit of the doubt is “to decide that you will believe someone, even though you are not sure that what the person is saying is true.”
Another word: Trust.
Like Love always trusts. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Rather than let my emotions run my mind, it would have been better to step back, look at the situation objectively, and trust that her heart toward me was good.
Skepticism is fine, if there is a previous history. But can we not at least begin any interaction by assuming truth and goodwill? If we’re unsure, choose to trust.
After all, it’s highly unlikely that the person who cut you off in traffic actually meant to harm you. It is quite likely the clerk was in a bad mood before you got there. Even your boss’s motives probably aren’t all bad toward you.
Choosing to trust, giving the benefit of the doubt, empowers the other person to rise into trustworthiness. Choosing mistrust encourages denigration and deceit.
Any time we empower another person, THAT’S LOVE.
My friend did eventually find her phone, and I found a new perspective on love. I even gave the waiter the benefit of the doubt about my cold coffee.
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Creating Systems for Courageous Kindness
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