Don’t make assumptionsWhere's the Faith?, Latest Issue Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
Like the first two, this third agreement is easier said than done. Can you think of a situation where you made an assumption and were completely wrong? Don’t assume!
Don Miguel Ruiz writes, “Whenever we make assumptions we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a whole big drama – for nothing.” He goes on to say, “All the sadness and drama you have lived in your life is rooted in making assumptions and taking things personally.” Hmmm – that’s a big statement!
Think about how many times we make assumptions – every day! For example, we look at what a person is wearing, or hear the accent in their voice, or see the color of their skin, or even notice at the car they’re driving and we make incredibly complex conclusions – without even thinking.
We observe, and then assume a person’s political view and then make extensive assumptions about their values …
You’ve heard of the phrase, don’t “jump to conclusions.”
Well, let me share something with you; we rarely are able to jump to conclusions, rather, we “jump to assumptions!”
And then we do this: We assume that someone who knows us, should already know exactly what we want, exactly what we need, exactly when we want it without us having to say a single word, and then when they disappoint us, we get upset! Remember the first agreement; be impeccable with your word!
So, why is it so easy for us to make assumptions in the first place? According to Don Miguel Ruiz, we make assumptions because we don’t ask for clarification about what we don’t understand. Perhaps it’s because we have such egos that we don’t want to look foolish by revealing all we don’t know!
He goes on to say, “Because we are afraid to ask for clarification, we make assumptions, and believe we are right about the assumptions; then we defend our assumptions and try to make someone else wrong. Oh my friends, it is always better to ask questions than to make assumptions, assumptions just set us up for needless suffering.”
Many times we assume others know more about a topic than we do, so not to look dumb, we keep our mouths shut. I remember in school, not raising my hand in class when I didn’t understand something the teacher said. But, I was so glad when someone else in class raised their hand and said, “Teacher, I don’t get it. Can you explain that again?” I wasn’t alone!
Being open and honest with others about who we are, about what our needs are and about what we don’t understand takes courage, and it takes courage whether we’re talking about a misunderstanding with a loved one, a stranger, someone here at church or a co-worker. It takes courage to ask for what we need, and yet if we don’t, we may spend a lifetime going without clarification and understanding.
In Scripture, Jesus models the courage it takes to be clear about who we are and what we’re all about. Here he is, standing in front of his home crowd at the Nazareth Synagogue, and he reads from Isaiah words about the one who is anointed to bring good news to the poor, release to the captives and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Jesus clearly identifies himself as the one who was promised in the scriptures, and from then on, his public ministry begins. Jesus refused to take the easy road, he didn’t assume that people in his hometown would guess correctly who he was; he needed them to clearly understand, and so he told them, and that took courage.
I encourage you to make an agreement with yourself to be clear with the people around you, clear about who you are, what you want, and what you need. You’ll save yourself many disappointments and headaches.
Now, this isn’t easy. It will take courage. But remember, if we don’t have the courage to be clear, we will fall back on our assumptions about others, and their assumptions about us, (that’s a lot of assuming!) and the result will be confusion, definitely drama and possibly hurt.
So let’s not make assumptions.
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