A Different Perspective, The Victoria Advocate
This past Sunday morning, my husband and I were walking through the wide hallway of our church and caught a precious scene between a mother and her little girl. The younger one was showing her mother the cotton balls that had come off her craft. Two fluffy white orbs filled her tiny hand. Mom said something to the effect that the art was fine without them. Then the little one knelt in the busy thoroughfare and reverently placed the cotton balls on the tile floor. Like she was willing to discard them but not sure how to accomplish it. Mom patiently told her daughter to pick them up, that they would find a better place to throw them away. The whole incident lasted about five seconds, but it was pretty darn cute. The little girl’s disposal method, while adorable, was entirely unexpected. Nobody minded though. She didn’t know what was appropriate.
She didn’t know what she didn’t know.
It reminded me of the time one of my granddaughters was so proud of her sparkly Easter dress, she belly-inched her way across the church bathroom floor. Not content with her best impression of a worm, she also peeked under each stall. We continue to hope she has learned that is not acceptable behavior.
But at the time, she didn’t know what she didn’t know.
Any given point in our lives is a learning curve. I always laugh at young couples who don’t think they need marriage counseling—as if anybody knows how to be married. There’s always a bend around the road we’ve never traveled, a season of life we’ve never lived before. A few years ago, I was frustrated with a situation, and it was important enough to ask for advice from a mentor and friend. Once we discussed it, she wisely said, “They don’t know what they don’t know.”
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. And it truly helped my patience level with particular individuals. In my heart, I had assumed they should know better when the truth of the matter was, they didn’t. Or if they did, a veil covered their eyes, and they couldn’t see things for what they were—or here’s the real reveal—they didn’t see things from my perspective. But why should they? It would have been easier all the way around if they had, but they were so caught up in their own lives, the feelings of others and any long-term repercussions took a back seat.
Don’t we all assume to some extent that people should know better? In case you’re wondering, the answer is an unqualified YES.
It also happened in the circumstances surrounding Jesus Christ. He came to end the separation between God and man. Yet, there have been people all through the ages who don’t know or don’t care. They don’t know God will have the last say, or they’re so focused on their own agendas, they don’t see a need for God.
But Jesus’s response to the unfairness of his trial and death sentence was this: “‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’ And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” (Luke 23:34) Yet, I’m sure if you asked his persecutors, they would have insisted they knew what they were doing. However, they only understood one layer and remained ignorant about God’s long-term plan.
Next time some situation or some person starts to get under your skin, a good thing to remember is, “They don’t know what they don’t know.” It leaves room for grace.