I Just Assumed

It’s never good to make assumptions about people.
I mean, I’ve never really liked it when people make assumptions about me. Early on, when my husband first became a pastor, I learned quickly to hold off telling people I met what my husband did for a living for as long as I could. For when they found out, invariably they assumed certain things about me, and mostly they were wrong.
Recently I sat in my doctor’s office waiting room, and decided that I must have had
“talk to me”
written on my forehead. Perfect strangers kept finding their way to the seats next to me, and then striking up conversations. Normally I like hearing the stories people tell, especially from older folks.
So I was fine with the stream of conversationalists in the doctor’s office until I ran into Mr. Barnett. We were both waiting in the lab to have blood drawn when he spotted me. He looked to be about seventy or so. After the day I had been having, I almost waved him on over, and patted the seat next to me. I knew he was coming anyway.
Sure enough, he ambled over: white hair, too much around the middle, ruddy skin, and short of breath. I was thinking, “Heart attack about to happen”. Mr. Barnett dropped himself heavily into the next chair and introduced himself loudly. He was hard of hearing… from working on jet engines all those years. Yep. He told me lots of things about himself and his family. He was on a blood thinner and was there to have that checked. See? Heart attack.
Then he told me how he used to live closer into town, but he had to move because the neighborhood had been taken over by people who were not the same color as he is.
Only he didn’t say it that carefully.
He looked at me and said, “I know we all have to get along… I don’t know… I was raised conservative.” (I took that to mean racist- but then I’m assuming.) And with a knowing nod and a wink, he continued, “I bet you were, too.”
BAM!
There it was. He’d made an assumption about me, and he was wrong. I wanted to scream, “NO! I’m not like you at all!”
(I also wanted to crawl under my chair. It was a crowded and diverse room. Everything he was saying he said loudly because he couldn’t hear how loud he was. Jets, remember? Anything I said in response I had to say just as loudly, so I had tried to keep my responses to head nods.)
At this point in the conversation, I assumed the universal pose of the offended. (See blog post from July 7th if you need a reference.) Thankfully, at that moment the door to the lab swung open, and my name was called. I was never so glad to go get stuck with a needle.
We’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, or a person by the skin they’re wrapped in. I’ve done both, and I have missed out on some great books and some wonderful people. I still judge books by their covers, I value good cover art, yet I have learned that skin is only skin-deep.
The truth is, we all make assumptions about folks at one time or another. We make them about God, too. The problem is,
what if our assumptions are wrong?
If we’re wrong about a person, then we’ve just missed out on knowing a cool person. If we’re wrong about God… that’s tragic. The only solution to this problem is relationship. When we step out into relationships with people we soon find out what’s inside, and our preconceived notions about those people often fade away. The same is true of God. We can only assume things about Him until we step into relationship with Him. How many times has He wanted to scream,
“I’m not like that at all!”
I know some of the ideas I used to have about God were wrong. Maybe you are going on what you were told as a child, and you’ve just gone with that without ever really getting to know Him for yourself. What you learned might be right, but what if it’s not?
What if you learned that God is distant and uninvolved in His creation?
Then you’d never know that He wants to be a part of every part of your life.
What if you were taught that God is like a scolding father who is never pleased with you?
Then you probably don’t know that He is cheering you on when you succeed and reaching out to you with hope when you fail.
What if you assume that His approval of you is based on how many good works you do for Him or how well you measure up as a person?
Then you’d never know how crazy proud He is of you whether or not you do anything at all.
You’d never know how much He just wants to know you and for you to know Him, and that would be tragic, indeed.

So what do you think?

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