AND Discern What Is True

September 13th, 2015

As I was listening to the news this past week, I became acutely aware of how it easy it is to create a story (as opposed to report one) by placing it in a frame and telling the circumstances of the story as if the frame accurately labels the circumstances. One telling of the story of the clerk in Kentucky who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples stood out.

What got my attention was hearing the reporter describe the circumstances as a situation where someone was removed from her elected position and put in jail for refusing to change her religious beliefs. I was stunned that the changing of religious beliefs became the story, as opposed to a story about not performing required job duties (as many other reporters had framed the events).

It is so easy to just internalize stories presented to us as if they are the truth, when we are not consciously listening for what is true. In the case of the story told about the clerk, one of the things I was reminded of was the gift of living in a country where we can hold whatever beliefs we hold without fear of retribution. When we express them and how we express them may have consequences for us and others. Holding them does not.

In some ways, the clerk’s predicament reminds me of what has been going on for years in our workplaces. People are hired for a particular job. Circumstances in the business cause the job to be redefined and the job requirements change. We are then faced with whether we want to continue to work in that particular organization and do that particular job.

When the clerk was elected in Kentucky, her job was one thing. Because of a higher ruling, her job now includes a different responsibility. No one is forcing her to change her beliefs. Her job has changed and she needs to decide whether she will continue to serve the elected position and whether she can do her job and still honor her beliefs. In an interesting way, what she faces, is what every person faces every day.

When our beliefs are challenged in personal or professional situations in ways that cause us to reevaluate who we say we are and what we say we believe, we are invited to clarify what matters most to us and whether we will find ways to adapt to the situation in ways that support what we say matters most to us. When we cannot both be true to that which we hold most dear and continue the relationship that challenges us, we have a choice to make.

Anyone can tell a story as she or he chooses. We, as listeners, need to be awake enough to discern what is true and what is not.

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