The Revealing Nature Of “The Rest of the Story”

In September of 2003 a hurricane ravaged the state of Maryland leaving many without power, including my family, for weeks. That hurricane was named Isabel and it felled a hundred foot tree on the side of our property which landed squarely on top of my house. It was around midnight when, while sleeping, the house shook with the impact of that fallen tree. Within moments I was out of the house trying to survey the damage. The wind was still raging and tree debris was blowing everywhere. No sooner had I gone outside than I made a determination that it was too dangerous to be there, so I turned around and went back into the house and waited till morning to asses the damage.

Months later when talking with acquaintances, I told them about the terrible event. I also told them I learned that I had a great insurance agent because he was out surveying the damage within minutes of the disaster. They were impressed and gave a look of great surprise. “Really!” they exclaimed with a look of complete disbelief. “Yeah”, I said. Then came ‘the rest of the story.’ “I’m the agent!” They laughed. The statement was true of course, but, like Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.” Somewhat related was when my wife graduated from nursing school a number of years ago. One of the students in her graduating class was a policyholder of mine. Over time she and my wife had become friends. At the graduation this policyholder remarked to her classmates, “Everyone came today for my graduation. Even my insurance agent is here!” she said as she introduced me. They were impressed that I would be so “close” to my clients and take the time to support one of them by being at their graduation. Then she smiled and told them that I was a classmates husband. They went from being impressed to getting a good laugh.

In the above cases, I actually appeared to be a better agent than I really was. However, too often we go through life and see how others conduct their lives and make improper judgements about them. Often these ‘observations’ are not positive. We make evaluations of people based on very limited knowledge. They live in a big house; they must be rich and “successful.” They are highly educated; “they must be very smart.” They don’t live in a big house; they must not be “ambitious or successful!” They don’t have an impressive diploma, therefore they must not be “very smart” and on and on. We often make evaluations without the full picture. And the ‘full picture’ is often very revealing. Things are seldom as they seem. People are not always as they seem. We are not always as we seem to others.

Drawing conclusions about others is usually risky at best. I have learned that “the rest of the story” of others lives explains a lot about who they are, how they react to life’s challenges, and how their decisions in life are influenced by their past experiences. Over the years, due to ecclesiastical responsibilities, I have had the opportunity to hear ‘the rest of the story’ of many people’s lives. Their stories of courage and faith in overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles is inspiring and uplifting. Knowing ‘the rest of the story’ of their lives has given me a greater insight into the unheralded heroes that daily walk among us. It’s too bad that we seldom get to hear “the rest of the story”, because in so doing, we would find greater respect, admiration, appreciation and love for our fellowmen…and they for us!

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