The first telling of a story is probably accurate, but also incomplete. Every good story must be told more than once to fully appreciate its many layers. And knowing the rest of the story informs our best response.
We set ourselves up for many frustrations when we only see a story from our point of view. Without question, we do well to honor each other’s perspectives and not just our own. At the same time, it’s good to remember a story has many layers.
For instance, a story about an irritating boss is rarely just a story about an irritating boss. Chances are good the boss is also pushing our personal buttons and maybe even many of our childhood wounds. He treats me just like my dad!
These additional layers are likely not evident during our first telling. And while learning to deal with an irritating boss is a good thing by itself, there is also more to the story. Going into this more allows for deeper and lasting changes to take place. Maybe the deeper issue is less about our boss and more about how we show up in our life and relationships. This shifts our focus – less attention on the boss and more on who we are becoming.
It’s the same story. But it’s also a deeper truth.
These layers of meaning can extend into the spiritual realms as well. With Job, there are often spiritual realities playing out in our story that we’re unaware of. And we may also never get the full picture.
However, when things don’t make sense from a human perspective, there’s probably more going on than what meets the eye. This reminds us to see, interpret, and respond to life also with a spiritual lens. A fight with your wife, for example, is probably not just a fight with your wife. The thief of goodness might also be at work, which would then call for a much different response.
Accept the initial telling of a story. And remember there is often more to it. Without dismissing the first, listen deeper and learn to respond to each layer in turn, and as needed.