Everyone who does counseling knows that there are 1,000s of things that happen in a session that can be interpreted in any number of ways. When a person recounts a situation, he must leave out things and also include things. If the event being recounted took an hour to occur and the story teller only has a few minutes to tell it, this editing is even more strict. This means that the storyteller must “slant” the story in a particular way in the retelling. He leaves things out and he includes things for a reason. You might ask him about the omitted things and reasons, but you can’t read his mind about them and you can’t know anything about them unless you can somehow check the story. When the story is a real story, sometimes you can check. Otherwise, you need to trust that the direction he took, he took for good reasons and the direction he didn’t take, he didn’t take for good reasons.
When the storyteller invents a story and then recounts what he has invented, you have the same scenario. He puts things into the story and leaves things out. The difference is that if someone doubts his story, there isn’t any way to check the story. He made it up. People can’t come to him and say, “Hey, you left out the part where he slugged his wife with an eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher. You are a terrible story teller because you didn’t mention that fact.” There can be no real assumptions about a story someone else made up. It might be a bad story, or it might be a great story, but it his story. To say, he should have, or he shouldn’t have, makes no sense when the story was made up. It is what it is.
I wrote a blog post last week that I made up out of thin air. My response to the woman, in my story, did not deal with the danger to her safety. Why? Because I’m a horrible man? Or a horrible counselor? Or because my church isn’t a nice huggy church? No! I didn’t mention how she should handle her danger because she wasn’t in any danger. It was my story. How can I be wrong? Sure, in other people’s stories she might have been in danger. And in real life there are plenty of situations where I would have responded totally differently, but in this story, she wasn’t in any danger.
Let me say this again, I wrote the story and the woman I wrote about was not in any danger. Here are some things I didn’t say in my story: her husband was not going to the basement to look at porn or to drink whiskey out of a paper cup, he went to the basement to carve ducks out of wood; he also went there because his wife was a horrible shrew and he needed to get away from her sharp tongue (his version of the corner of the roof, Pro 25:24); the woman was lying through her teeth about whether her husband had ever spoken to her in a harsh way; her husband did blow up at her three years ago, but hasn’t for a very long time; the wife wrote her letter to me because she was trying to get me on her side because she wanted her husband to build a new house in the suburbs. I left all this out because they weren’t important to what I was trying to say. I could have written it thousand other ways. A thousand other things were possible. I made it up.
The goal of my post was to remind folks that life can be hard and in order to live in difficult situations we need to begin by rising above what we see around us. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1–4).