“’My mommy and daddy sleeped in different beds last night!’
That’s how my 3-year-old chose to greet our babysitter as she walked in the door yesterday.
‘This is how rumors get started,’ I told myself.
Luckily, our babysitter is wonderful and didn’t think twice about it. Still, though, I felt the need to quickly tell the full story: that my sweet husband told me to go sleep upstairs last night because he knew I was exhausted and that all four of our kids would be up several times throughout the night.
What sounded like marital instability turned out to be the opposite.
This story has a happy ending. My loose-lipped toddler was within ear shot, so I had an opportunity to set the record straight.
But how often are we there to tell the other side of the story?
As humans (per my college psychology class) it’s our natural instinct to believe the worst in others. We hear something terrible about someone we once admired, and all of a sudden,
‘I always knew there was something off about him…’
‘I knew their marriage was too good to be true…’
‘There’s always a deeper story…’
But what if we started assuming the best in others?
What if we stopped taking small pieces of information as fact and then applying them to someone’s life as a whole?
What if we started giving people the benefit of the doubt?
I’m not so naive to think that everyone is perfect or even good. Wolves in sheep’s clothing are all around.
But gossip — about our friends and neighbors — isn’t that something we can start doing differently?
My mother always told me, ‘Live a life so that when people speak badly of you, no one will believe it.’
This is great, but it’s only half the work.
What if we actively chose to believe the best in others?
What if we came to their aid and supported them if the rumors turned out to be true?
Isn’t that the whole definition of ‘loving thy neighbor?’
Of ‘treating others as we’d like to be treated?’
And really, isn’t that how I want to raise my children?
So, the next time I overhear a toddler in the halls or a neighbor in the grocery store giving some seemingly-juicy gossip to the person next to them, I’ll do my best to remember the words I’ve written here — and to believe the best in it all.”
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