I was reminded this morning of a time years ago when some assumptions were made which deeply affected an important relationship in my life.
My two older children, close in age and in birth month, had a joint birthday party one summer. Having many of the same friends and interests, the kids and I decided to nestle their party between their birthdates and rent out our youth facility at church, for one big summer bash. Shortly after, a family member contacted me letting me know that my decision was unacceptable, selfish; that my children should have had individual parties, and that I should have been willing to spend more of my resources on them, rather than on a new pair of shoes for myself. (Shoes, by the way, that were nearly 3 years old at the time.)
I often marvel at the conclusions people are willing to jump to without pause to consider any possibilities other than the negative.
Not only were the assumptions incorrect, but they assigned untrue character flaws/attributes which were used as a foundation for future interactions and perceptions of my choices/words/actions. Such a foundation, once set, is nearly impossible to adjust without a complete tear down and renovation.
Such is the end, or damaging, of so many relationships.
I don’t share this story as a means to disrespect anyone, but rather to stir; to bring about the opportunity for us to be truly authentic in facing how we choose to assume, assign and denigrate the decisions or words of others, often without fully understanding the position of another’s heart. It is easy to neglect the responsibility of asking clarifying questions, to refuse the honor of allowing for differences without denouncing character. But to what end?
Neglecting intentionality, we swiftly become accusers. Judgmental.
Jesus spent most of his ministry around broken people – thieves, liars, prostitutes – but he merely met people where they were at. I have never read where he made presumptions or categorized people by one or two similarities. As Christ followers, we are also called to love, grace one another (including ourselves!) where we’re at, and pursue what God has for us.
Who can you grace today? Who can you personally release from your talons of ideology or assignment? Which individual, or groups of humans, could you choose to find common ground with? Who do you need to pray to release you….?
Keep it simple, my friends.