“They’re doing the best they can”

A friend of mine has chosen to believe that about people. Even people who let her down, or worse. She steps back, assesses the sometimes blazing damage done to the relationship in a fit of chaotic immaturity, when some one has lied about her or accused her of something or stolen from her or disrupted the peace in her life. And she decides to see it this way,

“They’re doing the best they can, most people are. They didn’t mean to cause all this damage.”



I had a meeting today at the coffee shop with a really young woman (really young) who brings light into every room she enters. I was giving advice from the much travelled and loooooong road of my life to this dazzling “younger woman in the faith,” to share my experience in hopes she’ll avoid some of the distractions and missteps I’ve made.

We got to talking about Jesus {great topic, huh?}, the way He dealt with people, how He saw them. He just went around “doing good and healing all who were oppressed.” He talked to the outcasts, and He dined with society’s most hated. He set the sinful on fire with forgiveness, conversed intelligently with the rich and powerful and dealt gently with the poor. He told good stories and drew crowds. He touched blind eyes and deaf ears and people everywhere wanted what He could give.

But He didn’t entrust Himself to people’s whims and opinions and judgements. He didn’t allow people’s  actions or words or acceptance or rejections to sway who He was and why He came. He didn’t let His love die out based on the things they did, “for while we were yet sinners…”  He didn’t “entrust Himself to them,” or as one translations says, “He did not entrust His life to them.”

John 2.23-25 Amp.  “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in His name [identifying themselves with Him] after seeing His signs (attesting miracles) which He was doing. But Jesus, for His part, did not entrust Himself to them, because He knew all people [and understood the [superficiality and fickleness of human nature],  and He did not need anyone to testify concerning man [and human nature], for He Himself knew what was in man [in their hearts—in the very core of their being].”

And yet, and perhaps because He understood humankind and the all the ways we are quick to judge and condemn and criticize and withdraw – in spite of the fact that He could truly see people for who they were and what they were about, He loved them. And that love led Him straight to the cross for the these same (fickle) people, and you and me.

Sometimes we are moved to jump straight into the amazingly good and messiness of relationship because of love. But  something untoward happens and we emerge wounded and shredded and torn up and surprised and mad and vowing we’ll never do that again. People let us down. Sometimes people do worse. Sometimes we’re shocked they could treat us so badly “after all I have done for them.”

But I bet the problem was us (don’t ask me how I know). Sometimes we entrust ourselves, giving power to others and their opinions and wishes; we give away a part of ourselves when it wasn’t a required part of just loving them. Then we’re disappointed, we’re ticked. But parts of own hearts are out there walking around in some one else’s possession – and we have let that happen. Of course we’re wounded – they possess what we gave!

If Jesus had done relationships like we do, He’d probably have been pretty ticked off at us as He hung on the cross. But He’d kept His heart intact. He loved people. He did good to them. He blessed them and forgave them and healed them. But He kept His heart whole and healthy, whole and holy – strong for the mission. He remained wholehearted. And so He was able to show the ultimate love. He is love.

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Like my friend reminds me, “People are doing the best they can.” They’re probably not actually trying to be the biggest jackwagons in the world, probably not trying to ruin your life, not meaning to let you down or disappoint you. They’re doing the best they can and when they know to do better, they usually will.

Know how I know? ‘Cause that’s what you do. And me, too. We are all just doing the best we can and learning as we go.

Oh, to be like Jesus…

“…looking unto [fixing our eyes on] Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12.2


343 thoughts on ““They’re doing the best they can”

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    The truth is most of us should feel fortunate if we can get readers to do ONE thing. So, we have to ask ourselves: “What do I want that one thing to be?”

  6. See, we tend to ask a lot of readers. Subscribe to our mailing list… Share our posts on all the social media channels… Leave a comment… Email the post to your friends…
    The first one is pretty easy: ask for them. If you want readers to leave you a comment, ask them to do so. You’d be surprised how many bloggers don’t ask, but yet are surprised when their comment count stays in single digits post after post.

  7. You’re not wrong — getting comments (especially good comments) is a lot more difficult than it used to be. Personally, I view comments as a nice byproduct (a “bonus”) of what can happen when you write good content that connects with people, but it isn’t my goal. But if it’s yours, there absolutely are things you can do to encourage them.
    Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for the kind words.

  8. I was especially interested because it seems like blog comments are rare today compared with when I started… Getting comments at all – let alone good ones – is really hard. I realize it’s a different topic, but what do you do to encourage more commenting in the first place?
    Thanks for sharing the post with your group and on social media. Appreciate it!

  9. Yes, know matter how much you know or think you know about blogging, most of us are only just scratching the surface. That’s where great sites like Smart Blogger come into play. Read, absorb, and ask questions. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
    I will share this with my author’s group in our next get together, and on social media. Thank you again for the clear skies and direction!

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