“You know what assuming does?” My mom said after I had said something unverified and probably inaccurate. “…makes an a** out of you and me” “Mommy!” I gasped (she is not prone to using obscenities at all) but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense (not to mention, it’s pretty clever).
Spreading information that could lead to false conclusions is one thing; acting on it is another. Whether we realize it or not, we act on assumptions every day. Sometimes, these actions end up being harmless, other times, assumptions seep into our worldviews, are mistaken for truth, and affect our decision making. We constantly need to be fact-checking our assumptions with the Word of God, particularly when it comes to how we interact with our fellow human beings.
Our culture is quick to put people into mental buckets as if we were sorting laundry. And just like if that orange sock accidentally slips into the wash with your white dress shirt, categorizing people can be dangerous. If we’re always viewing people through the filter of the group with which we think they associate, we automatically put barriers into our relationship. Not to mention, it’s also exhausting to constantly evaluate and treat fellow human beings according to what group we assume they identify with.
What if we built bridges instead of fences?
Instead of being quick to ask someone about their enneagram number (might want to do some research on that btw) or MBTI, maybe we should take some time to walk with them and really get to know them. If we don’t take the time to put others first and attempt to step into their world, we’ll never know who they really are.
In the same way, maybe we should also be slow to put labels on ourselves.
It’s easy to base our identity on the we ideas we hold, trends we enjoy, jobs we perform, or the company we keep. Yet those are mainly external attributes and ultimately only a small part of who we really are. In the long run, these groups are mostly social constructs and subject to change with the cultural tides. Deep, deep down, with all of these things stripped away, do we really know who we are?
We are God’s imagers; created for a specific purpose and placed within an intentional sphere. That’s a fact that will never change. When we view others through this lens, we ascribe to them their innate dignity (by operating under assumptions we deprive them of it). Seeing people as God sees them also changes our heart attitude from one of judgment to one of compassion. It frees all of us to live as who we were created to be.
What if we viewed others as God’s imagers? What if we invited dialogue with the intent of listening and understanding instead of spewing generalizations and talking past each other? What if we treated one another with dignity and respect even if we find out we have arrived at different conclusions from the same set of facts? What if we sought out those who are different than us and chose to love them instead of only surrounding ourselves with people who will affirm our assumptions?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, let’s give each other a little grace. Let’s attempt to lay aside our assumptions and instead be quick to listen and slow to speak. It might save us from looking stupid and build up others up in the process.
“…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity…” ~Colossians 3:12-14