Behind the Fence


We have a choice: We can make judgments based on what we see, or we can take the time to get a glimpse of what's happening "behind the fence".

Every day, a small boy watched as we played soccer in front of his house in Juarez, Mexico. He leaned against the short fence at the front of his yard, watching our every move. As we kicked the ball, we'd yell over for him to join us, but he'd simply smile, cast a glance down, and then nod. We'd call over to him again as we went into a church to begin Vacation Bible School, but he'd still decline. All through VBS, he'd stay at his fence, listening to the music and the stories from afar, while missing out on the crafts, snacks and games. This went on for weeks. Finally a co-worker walked the few steps across the road to extend a more personal invitation. What she discovered shocked us all. Little Damian had a cast going from his waist down each leg to his toes.

After weeks of inviting him, I finally knew why he'd never come over. It became so obvious, but before that moment it had been hidden behind a fence.

I had a similar experience last month. A friend accidentally hurt me. I knew it wasn't deliberate, but it hurt nonetheless. I couldn't shake the pain and didn't want it to affect our friendship, so I sent her an e-mail telling her how I felt. Her response left me speechless.
After apologizing, she described events happening to her and to her family, things that left her with little energy or desire to even get out of bed. I'd known only a portion of it, and that part would have been enough to put me into a deep depression. What I didn't know until that moment was that there was more—much, much more. Her normally serene life now had all the makings for an outlandish soap opera.
She let me see behind the fence, and in so doing, let me see the real reason for inadvertently hurting me.
Proverbs 9:6 says, "Walk in the way of understanding." If I hadn't known what drove my friend to do what she did, I might have walked away from our friendship or pretended things were okay when I knew they weren't. I was only able to walk in the way of understanding by learning what really was happening in her life.
Damian and my friend showed me that many times the things we see are just the surface. There usually is a much deeper reason why someone does or says something, or even a reason why they don't. They also taught me that I have a choice: I can judge based on what I see, or I can take the time to get a glimpse behind the fence.

Written by Stacy Voss

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