Within a few days of each other, two gobblers are down. An Eastern and a Rio. Since us guys only like our pictures taken if there are animals involved, there I am sitting behind each tom – feathers fanned and me as proud as a peacock. The pictures look nearly identical. The stories, completely different. One took about fifteen minutes after first light. The other after a long morning of nothing. One involved a quick sit, wait, and call. The other, a long silent run and ambush. One alone. The other with a friend. One an easy distance for a shot. The other pushing the limits. But the pictures look pretty much the same. But the pictures never tell the story. And if I were to show you the pictures without telling you the real story, you would conjure up one on your own according to what you see.
I get the extreme privilege of being around men – some of whom I have never met, and some of whom I have only met briefly. Most of the time these occasions are around an extended weekend that involves anything outdoors. What I find is that If I just look at each one of them, I am tempted to think their story is different than mine. I am tempted to think many of them do not know the same hurts, habits, and hang-ups that I do. I am tempted to think their story is without struggles. But when I engage with them, I realize we are really all the same, and none of us have been handed an easy hunt. While the details may be different, they all involve a pain that no one sees. Their picture may cause me to conjure up an easy story, but their real story is one of difficulty and lingering burdens. They are just like me – and everyone else – even if their life involves a deep and valued faith.
Many people are tempted to look at those who gather on Sunday mornings or other times during the week with other Christians, as people who have it all together. We see someone singing or with a Bible open and we take a quick snapshot. We then begin to build a story around what we see. Our temptation is to tell their story without any hardship. After all, only good people attend such gatherings, we think. After all, their good jobs or businesses, or affluence, has eliminated them from pain, we think. And then we hear their real story. And then we understand they are no different than we are. And then we see the reason they lean so heavily on their faith is the same reason we all do. It is because there is nothing else in their life that gives them the hope, encouragement, and forgiveness that Jesus does. Remember, the picture never tells the story.
Gary has written the Outdoor Truths article for 20 years. He has also written four books which include compilations of his articles and a father/son devotional. He also speaks at wild-game dinners and men’s events for churches and associations