THERE’S ALWAYS AN OTHER SIDE
One of the best ways to gain perspective on human functioning is to provide the service of marriage counseling to conflicted couples. Or family counseling where multiple viewpoints may be felt and, hopefully, voiced.
Maybe you’ve heard about the young rabbi who, in consulting with his mentor, told of how he met with a husband whose private litany of complaints about his wife provoked this response, “You’re absolutely right.” The mentor asked if this rabbi had yet met with the wife privately as well? “Yes,” said the young cleric. “She shared all of her own complaints about the husband, and I told her ‘You’re absolutely right.’” This led to the mentor’s warning, “when they get together and compare notes, they’re going to both lose all confidence in you.” To which the rabbi replied, “You’re absolutely right.”
Some things in life probably are “absolutely” right. But not most things. Most things are “partly right.” The rabbi was likely correct in his absolutist response to the mentor in question. But the better response to his married couple in question could have been that each was “partly” right. There is always more to be discovered in any story. A good counselor always leaves open the door for “more” truth than what is now seen.
There’s always another side.
Eight weeks ago today I posted here that I was facing open heart surgery just four weeks ahead. I needed my Mitral Valve repaired. I wrote about my future healing and recovery with as much certainty as I could then imagine. I saw through the glass dimly. But with whatever certainty I then leaned into, I reassured myself that the relief of after lay on the other side of any worry before. Before I faced risks, now in today’s post I look back upon rewards or benefits. Before there was apprehension (even more than I let on in my post of March 13). Today, exactly four weeks after the surgery, there is comprehension. Before it was anticipation, after there is celebration.
There’s always another side.
On the other side of worry lies relief.
On the other side of risk lies benefit.
On the other side of blame lies credit.
On the other side of weakness likes strength.
Don’t misunderstand. There were things I could quite easily do four weeks ahead of my heart surgery than I cannot yet do four weeks after. Major surgery is still major. Healing of disease is a process of befores and afters that appear far more circular than linear upon our graph paper of life.
Nor is life typically an issue of partly on one side becoming absolutely on the other. The other side of some isn’t all but rather more, perhaps even most.
Placing aside the issue of heart health, there is a healing remedy for brain or mental health that goes like this. Our brain’s limbic system is designed to think in terms of absolutes. Absolute wrong or absolute right. Absolute blame. Absolute credit. Absolute disease. Absolute cure. And while, like the good rabbi noted above, we may be correct in assuming the occasional “You’re absolutely right,” most everything in life is still unfinished, still open to knowing or being or doing "more." Still only partly right. Which is where our brain’s frontal lobe becomes so very helpful and necessary. Recognizing nuance. Creating space for compromise.
My own mental health rests on the self-assurance that love and its power of synergy through the empowerment of others is perhaps the only absolute truth in all our humanly known universe. Everything else is partly true. Everything else is on the before side.
Praising God’s perfect and loving design, and I write this while celebrating 4 weeks post-surgery today, we are always on the other side of something. And there’s always some better part ahead! Still awaiting our discovery and future celebration.