what if what we believe is wrong?

It’s no secret that I’m a big believer in learning from diverse people groups. This idea that we can only learn from the likeminded or like-something simply doesn’t resonate with me. It seems shortsighted, in fact, causing us to miss out on a whole host of insight and goodness.

A year and a half ago, I began learning from a colleague’s kids; they are 11 and 9 now. Wanting to authentically connect by caring about what they care about, we started talking about books. My friends are avid readers, and so over these past 18 months, we have actively exchanged ideas, insights and encouragements.

One of the aspects in which we’ve been overtly intentional is in the encouragement to read or to not. As many are well aware, it is a bit of a wry pet peeve of mine when a person reads a good book and then immediately exclaims, “You should read this!”

Friends, if I read every book someone encouraged me to read, I would do little to nothing else.

That said, my young friends have become excellent book reviewers. They know how and when to encourage — to hold ‘em, fold ‘em, and tell me when to run, so-to-speak. They have learned when to suggest reading by others — by children and/or adults — and they’ve learned to be both sensitive and intuitive to the desires of others, especially in regard to what they also would enjoy and have time for.

A recent, ringing endorsement, no less, was for “The Wingfeather Saga,” a four book, award-winning fantasy series written by Andrew Peterson, the artsy musician who plays just about everything, now allowing his creativity to shine through far more than song. I found the series to be delightful. While typically not fond of fantasy, there was something simply endearing about the adventures and transformation of the Igiby family and the tales that showcased the virtue that far more than children would be wise to embrace. 

For the purposes of today’s post (and thank you kindly for allowing a bit longer foray into the lives of both my deft reviewers and the animated Igibys), I’d like to focus on a singular insight presented in the series — an insight prompting a question, leading to a virtue relevant even a world that is not fantasy.

Let’s get there by identifying a key character. He’s the primary antagonist in the saga. [Note: for those wishing to read, let me advise you to tread lightly. I will not be giving the story away; however, we will be discussing some detailed information. Feel free to forgo.]

Let me introduce you to Gnag the Nameless. Throughout the books, Gnag the Nameless is the baddest bad guy. The unmistakable villain. He is ruthless, and far more fear than revere. In many ways he is the manifestation of evil in this fantasy version of planet Earth. He is powerful. People cower in his presence. He misses no opportunity to kill and destroy.

His nefarious behavior was birthed by his childhood. Fascinating how such affects us all. Gnag was a twin born in a royal lineage, the rightful heir to the ruling throne. However, Gnag was demonstrably, physically deformed at birth. The story of his birth was shared with him by his caretaker… Gnag was so deformed, so atrociously ugly, that his mother didn’t want him. She was disgusted. Repulsed. She therefore chose to raise only the “healthy” twin. Additionally, Gnag’s existence was to never be known. He was thus exiled as an infant, growing up elsewhere. He was told how unwanted he was. So unwanted, in fact, he wasn’t even given a name. Hence, Gnag the Nameless.

Understandably upset, Gnag’s emotion swelled. Over time, his emotion became a passion. His passion became a conviction. His conviction then drove everything he did. 

There’s but one problem.

What Gnag believed was untrue.

His emotion, passion and evolved conviction were based on an inaccurate starting point. What the caretaker told him was false.

As for the story, let me first clean this up… The scene is absolutely heartbreaking, when both the reader and fictional character learn the truth… Gnag was loved. He was wanted. He indeed had a name. His mother almost died giving birth. She thought he was dead. Gnag never knew.  

Let me humbly attempt to connect all of the above to the point of this post…

Something happens. A story is shared. An angle is seen. An emotion is felt. We believe something strongly. It grows. It grows more over time. It grows increasingly more when we connect with like experience. We become zealous… passionate. We get so passionate in our perspective that we never pause again to consider other angles and possibilities. We know what we believe and why we believe it. And we’re convinced it’s all based on solid reason and accurate stories.

But what if… what if… there’s an aspect of what we believe that’s untrue?

It may not have been intentionally misspoken, but yet, it was inaccurate.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s what’s happening a lot right now. We convince ourselves that everything we’ve based our perspective on is accurate.

But what if something we believe is wrong?

Will we pause long enough to know?