Believing the Showing
Poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, wrote: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” This is a creative adaptation of the old adage about words and actions which reinforces the foundational message. Reemphasizing this can be useful, especially when someone repeatedly shows who or what they are . . . but you refuse to believe.
Years ago I officiated at the wedding of Al and Mary. Both were young adults with university degrees and enviable jobs who had everything going for them. They appeared to have a deep love relationship. Not long after the nuptials, Al’s business life took a dramatic swing upward professionally and financially. Mary began to see less and less of him. He was generally off to work long before Mary awoke, and twelve-hour days were common. He immersed himself evermore in avocational pursuits which often kept him away from home the majority of weekend days, none of which included Mary. Within a couple of years this “loving” husband was devoting an average of two to three hours a week to his wife . . . in a good week. It took a while, but Mary eventually became a “believer” after Al showed her over and over who he was.
Sometimes the “showing” is dramatically demonstrable from day one. Other times is builds slowly, insidiously over time. People indeed change, and giving second chances is a good practice. But after the third (or thirtieth) chance is given and the “showing” changes not, one can righteously believe what he or she sees. What to do in such cases depends on the situation and the stakes at hand. Careful decision-making is always prudent, but chances are that a reassessment of the relationship is called for.
Snap decisions are generally not judicious, but neither is pretending that someone is something other than what they repeatedly show you.