Friday, June 12, 2009

Nip Assumptions

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I started to open a carbonated cola while riding in my husband Dave’s truck and he offered to pull the tab for me even though he was driving. He likes his truck to be clean and neat, so I was immediately a little bit offended, thinking he thought I’d spray the truck’s dashboard with fizz when I pulled the tab. I didn’t voice my thoughts but soon found out my assumption was very off track.

I’d been working on avoiding guesswork, so I asked why he offered to pull the tab, and he said in a gentle voice, “I didn’t want you to break a fingernail.” Because of my earlier assumption, I misjudged—for the moment—his charitable act of kindness.

He simply offered to open a cola can, such an ordinary occurrence, and I misjudged his motives. Just imagine how many larger things in life that we make wrong guesses about.

“Knowing their thoughts” is a phrase that characterizes Jesus in the New Testament. Because Jesus knew the thoughts of men, he could size up hearts and then address a crowd or individual in a way that would help them grow in their understanding of God and others.

Only God can truly know the inner person because he has seen every hurt and privilege. He knows our make-up better than any geneticist, and God knows each facet of our environments from birth to grave. He alone can know exactly what we are thinking and what has influenced us to behave in certain ways.

We humans look at events, or listen to conversations, or even facts, and then we still give our opinions from each individual small perspective. Tunnel vision. Thinking I know what someone else is thinking is where I get into the most trouble.

James offers helpful advice for good relationships when he says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (1:19-20).

Some of the most wounding circumstances start with one person misjudging what another is thinking. Many misunderstandings could be avoided if each person clamped off assumptions, listened, asked a few questions, and sent anger to stand in the corner.

June 13, Saturday, is dubbed “Weed Your Garden Day,” a reminder and a call to action. If weeds aren’t pulled, they multiply. Take a walk around your heart garden. See any misjudging there? If so, follow the bumbling Barney Fife’s advice, “Nip it. Nip it in the bud.”


  1. Anonymous9:50 AM

    Oh Cathy,

    I love your story and I know we are all so gulity of those quick judgements. I plan on taking inventory tomorrow and "weeding" those unpleasant thoughts and ideas. A good change of heart is what this whole nation needs.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

    Lenae Auman
    Grand Prairie, TX

  2. Thank you, Lenae. Inventory is always a good thing...nice to know you have a tender heart and take notice of these messages.

  3. Today was right time for this message as I have been guilty of misjudgement. Need to be reminded . Thanks Fern

  4. Yes, I keep re-learning lessons all the time. I need lots of refresher courses. Thanks for your comment, Fern.

  5. Hullo,

    Thank you for this post. It really hits the nail on the head. So many of us are quicker to take offense than to try to understand the true motives of the other person.


    Cynthia Lee

  6. Thanks, Cynthia, for reading post and stopping by. I have your name in the pot for the June drawing. Best wishes.