It happened again last week.
“Oh, you don’t have kids? I thought you did.”
And then, when I say, “Nope, never married, no children”, I get the pitying look or words. Which is another (false) assumption –that I am not OK with the state of my life.
We all do it.
We briefly interact with people and decide who they are, what they believe and their intent.
The young black man in a hoody and jeans.
He must be up to no good – when really, he is on his way to grad school.
The older, well-dressed white guy.
He must have always known “privilege” – when really, he is a survivor of the Holocaust.
The overweight woman.
She must eat really badly and never exercise – when really, she has already lost 60 pounds.
The young woman covered in tattoos and piercings.
She must hate herself – when really, she has enough self-love to live boldly.
The person with heavily accented English.
He must be uneducated – when really, in the land of his birth he is a renowned scientist.
Our experience, our culture, our current set of influencers – all of these help to inform our minds of what those things “must” mean.
How that person must feel.
What their life experience must have been.
And how they feel about it all.
We fill in the blanks of their story without ever stopping to know if it is the truth.
Which is bad enough.
But then we often act on our assumptions.
Putting up walls with some, simply because of their skin color. Or their tattoos. The way they dress. Or the way they smell.
Drawing close to others because they must be safe. When in reality, they have nothing but ill-intent in their hearts.
Deciding in advance what our experience will be with that person.
Or where they are coming from.
It happens to me. All. The. Time.
So I am guessing – assuming? – it happens to you.
People who barely know you draw conclusions about you. Your life. Your thinking. Your experiences.
Because of all the ways I am misunderstood based on assumptions, I have decided that there are only a handful of assumptions to make about ANYONE. And these are the only ones that are safe to make. All others are fraught with danger.
- Each person you meet is either heading into a crisis, is in the midst of one or is heading out of one.
- Every adult human carries a deep wound that influences their thinking, decisions, and emotions. The wound may be scarred over and they may have found a way to cope, but it still exists.
- A simple act of kindness – a smile, a nod, a hello, holding the door or offering a hand – will influence his day for the better. Even if you get a scowl in return.
- She has thought of giving up more than once.
- He desperately desires to be loved simply for who he is.
- No one is doing life perfectly. If they tell you they are, they are lying.
- She has a God-shaped hole in her life. It may or may not be filled with God – but it is filled with something.
- Each person you meet will live forever. It could be forever with Christ. It could be forever without Him. But he or she will live forever.
- Every wrong is seen and will be judged. Someone will pay for his sin. It will either be him or Jesus.
- You may be the only Jesus he ever meets and the only Bible she ever reads. You just don’t know so it is best to assume you are.
- That person was created in the image of God and is a beloved by Him simply for that reason.
- Someone is always watching, always listening, always taking in what you are saying. Or doing. Or not saying. Or not doing. Often your audience is far larger than you intended.
- You want to be understood. So does he.
- You want to be heard. So does she.
- You need help but don’t know how to ask. So does he.
- You long for better and so does she.
I am so glad that there are people who really know me and who rarely assume anything about me.
Instead, they ask.
And I am always delighted when I meet a stranger who doesn’t seem to be boxed in by assumptions about me.
I want to be that person.
I want to look at you, at him, at her, and see who you really are – a beloved creation of the Magnificent Creator, a person heading with every heartbeat for an eternal destiny, with or without Christ. I want to see you as He sees you and love you as He loves you. From the inside, out. Whether I know you or not. I want to assume that you could use a friend.
Use some love.
Use some kindness.
And I want to be a conduit of His love to you.
Because I don’t have to assume He loves you.
I know He does.