Assumption junction, it’s a crossroad where many relationships go off the rails.Someone says something, writes something or does something and we assume the absolute worst. The worst intent. The worst outcome. The worst meaning. The worst.
I’ve gone off the rails that that nasty spot too many time to count.
At home: I hear my kids say something when I’m not really listening and totally think they cussed. When they did not. (As confirmed by hubby, who has better hearing than me.) I go so far as to accuse the and argue. “Why do you always think we said the worst?” Is a question I don’t have an answer to. Worse yet: my husband asks a question and I assume it’s an attack, (this curiously happens approximately once a month..) my husband leaves a mess and I assume he’s assuming I’ll clean it up because that’s all I’m here for, when in realty he’s clueless that there’s even a mess. Not that any of this ever happens at my house.
At work: someone says something and I totally interpret as something entirely different from what they said.
At church: a pastor makes a comment about being a sinful human and half the congregation hears authenticity and the other half hears a confession worth of stoning. Be cause they assume the ultimate worst.
At Target: that chick with the crying kids in her cart who’s using her bridge card at 2:09 pm? Obviously working the system and avoiding working. Forget that she may have just gotten off work or be getting ready to go in….
In the bookstore: I’m totally guilty of judging a book by its cover and the first paragraph. Half the books on the shelves are obviously heresy. If I look hard enough every single one has something heretical if I assume the worst.
Which: I often do.
Somedays my assuming the worst makes me absolutely nauseous. First, because I feel like I’m surrounded by a world full of idiots and heretics, and second because I know from being on the other side, that assuming the worst is so often wrong.
What if we asked questions instead of throwing stones? (There’s a certain humility that’s required with asking a genuine question. We must ask willing to accept that our assumptions are wrong. This is entirely different than asking for the sake of showing someone how wrong they are.) We’re all human. We are all occasionally: wrong. Assumptions are one of the easiest ways to be wrong. (Assumptions are also a bad habit if you really like being right. Just sayin.)
Even scarier: what if we assumed the best? About intent. About motive. About meaning? What if we asked questions and listened to the answers?
I can tell you what would happen, because I’ve learned it the hard way: relationships improve. Communication becomes intimate and meaningful. Our communication skills are sharpened. Sometimes assuming the worst happens because our communication is misunderstood. (I have a tendency to say things and wonder how on earth anyone could mid interpret it, but they do. I need to learn to be more clear. Most of us do. When we assume the best: Work becomes a team instead of factions. We help each other instead of attacking each other. If we assume the best at target- well, we’ll probably have less judgmental attitude to answer to Jesus for…(I would, for sure.)
Honest moment: I thought about trying to assume the best about politics… But I just can’t seem to do it. I’m so jaded. Cynical. Untrusting.
I wonder if some of my paranoid assuming the worst comes from experiences like that???? I think I might be a more loving person who honors God and others, better.
Am I the only one who finds assuming the worst to be their default? What do you do to try to counter that default?
Here’s a scripture that keeps haunting and challenging me:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (but read the whole chapter!)
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes always perseveres. Love never fails. “
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others.. I have a feeling assuming the best and clarifying questions, could help make that a reality.
Dear lord, help me to love you more than anything else. Help me to love others the way you desire. With love like you define it, not as the world defines it. Help me to be brave and ask questions and humble when I hear the answers. Especially when my assumptions are wrong. Lord, help me not to sacrifice relationships on the altar of assumptions. I love you lord- amen.