A Lesson in Understand

Jocelyn - Provo, Utah
Entered on February 18, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

I can sum up middle school in one word: dramatic. Every thing every person did was such a big deal. After school I would go to one friend’s house and we would tell her mom about something hurtful that one of our classmates had done. Her mom would sympathize, telling us we did not deserve that kind of treatment. This understanding made us feel better. Later I would go home and repeat the same story to my mom expecting her to sympathize with me too. I never got what I expected. My mom would always say something in defense of the person who had hurt me. It seemed like she was endorsing their rotten actions! It would get incredibly frustrated and wish my mom could learn from my friend’s mom how to sympathize.

As time went by, I recognized that my mom was not approving of the actions of others; she was realizing that we never know all the reasons people act the way they do. My mom instilled in me the notion of giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. It is hard to forgive when a mistreating seems blatant or purposeful. But it gets easier when I think of how many times I have accidentally harmed someone. I would want others to give me the benefit of the doubt in those situations.

Humans tend to take small actions too personally and allow them to spoil moods. It is almost funny to think about how angry and frustrated I often get about the blunders of others. I have had bad days, snapped, grumbled, and acted irrationally. I justify my actions because of the trials I am dealing with at that time. Then I turn around, someone else makes a mistake, and I automatically assume that person is horrible. This does not balance out. There are valid reasons for having bad days. Even though people’s choices and actions sometimes hurt us, we are only hurting them back if we become infuriated and hold grudges. We are not always aware of why people make the choices that they do. We do not know the trials they are dealing with. But too often we pretend like we know exactly why someone has hurt us. We devote our time to coming up with a hundred names to call them while our time would be better spent coming up with a hundred ways that we could help them.

I mumbled and grumbled at as a child that my mom would never sympathize with me. But I never got what I expected. Now I realize the great life lesson she taught me. I believe in giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. It is a method of sympathizing with the whole world. It is a better way to understand others and allows anger to transform into understanding.