Benefit of the Doubt

Today I was urged by someone who is angry with me to look at myself in the mirror, examine myself, and think about how I treat those around me. While I do this regularly (as an aspie, I probably do this more often than most of you reading this) but, sure, I’ll do it again.

In fact, I’ve been doing it constantly for about a week now. It’s consuming me. I’ve searched my heart. I’ve searched my mind. I’ve searched my motives. The only thing I can come up with is, “I was trying to be a good friend to her.”

I don’t like everyone all of the time. When I dislike or feel rubbed the wrong way by a person, I usually cannot pinpoint why. So I’ll try to like the person. Once in a while, something will pop up to validate why I didn’t like them in the first place. Sometimes nothing ever pops up. But I know to keep my distance from a person I don’t feel a connection with because it’s easy to have a rude tone of voice or to communicate something unpleasant non-verbally when I’m not feeling it with a person. I can also become easily annoyed and that puts negative thoughts in my mind about the person who annoyed me. I try really hard to keep people who annoy me at arms length. Not only for my own good but for theirs too. So no one gets hurt. I can’t be friends with everyone. I just can’t.

But when I do let a person in, when I do decide that I like a person and I want them to be someone I keep close, I expect them to give me the benefit of the doubt. I do that for them. If they hurt my feelings (and if you are reading this, you have probably hurt my feelings somehow at least once if we’ve had much contact) then I either get the heck over it or I go to the “offender” and I try to talk about the situation. That’s the only way I can keep friends. If I stopped speaking to everyone who has ever hurt me in some way, I’d have no one in my life. Not a one.

Just to be sure I wasn’t off base, I went ahead and looked up what the Bible says about the benefit of the doubt.  A quick google search showed me this link.

First Corinthians 13:7 says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Leon Morris, in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, says this about the phrase “believes all things”: “To see the best in others . . . . This does not mean that love is gullible, but that it does not think the worst (as is the way of the world). It retains its faith. Love is not deceived . . . but it is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt.”

When we hear something negative about others or we’re suspicious about the motive for their actions, let’s stop before we judge their intentions as wrong or bad. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

The person who urged me to reflect upon my own motives, I have no doubt that I hurt her feelings.  It’s the story of my life.  It’s just what I do.  In this case, I somehow managed to hurt her feelings by not even being in contact with her.  I am certain that I will hurt the feelings of likely ten people tomorrow.  Unless I just stay silent, held up in my bed all day, I will hurt feelings.  I used to think that the problem was that I hurt people’s feelings so easily.  And I sure wish that I was better able to understand social rules a bit better.  I sure wish I had more insight into the minds of people and what it is that I’m speaking or typing that is so hurtful.  Unfortunately, I don’t though.  The only consolation is the one I have when I examine my motives.  And those, my friend, are pure.  I have a kind heart.  As I said earlier, I get annoyed.  But even the most annoying person in the world to me… well..  I don’t wish them any ill will.  I wish nothing but the best for everyone. I truly am trying to be helpful, kind, loving, and a good friend to anyone who has let me in.  And to many people who have not.  I am always trying to be at the very least nonharmful to the rest of the population.  I never mean to hurt anyone, ever.  I just wish that people who claim to care about me would realize this, believe it, and either move on from the thing I said or did to hurt them or give me a chance to correct my mistake.  When people confront their loved ones with kindness and good intentions, gently, relationships can not only be salvaged but they can deepen.  Without the guarantee that my friends will do this should the need arise, I will never be able to let them into that inner layer.  This is why so few people have ever gotten there with me.

I urge you, reader, to give the benefit of the doubt to those who you feel have wronged you.  Give them a chance to explain what they really meant by their words or actions.  It’s the only possible way that any of us can achieve healthy, mature relationships.


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