Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why Assuming Will Kill You (And Three Ways to Stop)!

Assuming can kill you physically. For instance, you might assume taking several pills instead of just one as prescribed will not kill you. You may assume the drivers in the intersection will give you the right of way even though you are running a red light. Although assuming can technically kill you physically, it's not the main type of killing I speak of in this post. 

Assuming can kill you emotionally.
It can kill your productivity.
It can kill your career.
It can kill your marriage and all your other close relationships too. 
It can kill your enthusiasm, your motivation, your happiness.

I beg you to stop assuming.
For your own health. For the good of others too.
Assuming leads to so much stress and it will catch up with you in the way of headaches, neck aches, high blood pressure and so much more.

Some people don't realize how much they assume. We can readily see how others assume. Us? Not so much.

The truth is, we all assume more than we should. And for our own sakes, we need to stop.

Consider these three fictional stories, all of which have been constructed based on thousands of cases just like them that I'm personally aware of. 

Kalie has loved flowers all her life. Arranging them is her passion. She's been doing flower arrangements for her church for the past few years. When her church has an event, she makes all the centerpieces for the tables when the pastor or women's leader calls her and lets her know there is a need. Recently the church hosted a spring tea and months before the event, Kalie started working on centerpieces, assuming they would be needed. She even purchased some things ahead of time without inquiring about it, assuming she'd be handling them. Weeks passed and one day she stopped into the church office to show a sample of the centerpieces she planned to use for the tea. Pastor Lia, the women's pastor in charge of the tea awkwardly responded that they had already asked Netta, a newcomer at the church, to handle the centerpieces for the event. Pastor Lia explained that Netta also had a background in flower arranging and while they appreciated Kalie's work and had every intention of continuing to utilize her talents, they also desired to provide opportunities for everyone at the church to use their gifts.  Kalie held herself together emotionally while in the office but upon getting into her car burst into tears, drove home and told her husband she was absolutely devastated.

Ron has worked part time at IFC Designs for the past two years. He loves his job and really wants to be full time. He has noticed a pattern that when staff members have been there for two years, most of them receive an invitation to become full time if they have excellent work habits. He also has a part time job at a recycling plant and hates it and wants to quit. A full time position comes up at IFC. Ron is tired of working at the recycling plant and so sure he's next in line at IFC, he resigns his job at the recycling plant. Imagine his shock to come into IFC the next week to find that Taylor, someone who is also an excellent worker but has only been there for a year, is offered the position. Ron now has no clue what he's going to do to make ends meet and is so angry about the whole thing he can't see straight. He likes Taylor as a person and only the highest regard for him as a colleague but he's angry about the situation and is becoming bitter toward his boss at IFC.

Alex and Sonia have been volunteer youth leaders among a team of many others at Calvary Church for several years. They love working with the youth and if they had their dream come true it would be to make it their vocational ministry and work with teens full time. They never say anything to the pastor about this, but often discuss it at home. They are sensing a shift coming with the current youth pastor, Robb.  They start praying and fasting about it, claiming the job is theirs. Sure enough in three months, Robb and his wife Alicia resign. Alex and Sonia take this as a confirmation. They are convinced the position is theirs. Imagine their surprise a few Sundays later when the pastor announces he has hired a couple from Arizona to lead the youth and they will be arriving the next week! Alex and Sonia feel hurt beyond words and wonder what happened.  They don't even want to walk in the doors of Calvary Church this Sunday. Over and over they ask themselves...what went wrong?

What went wrong in all three cases is a whole bunch of assuming.

Assuming will get us in trouble and rob our peace every time.

Don't ever assume. At least if you want to spare yourself a lot of grief.

Here's a pattern that works really well for me:

1) Inquire. Speak directly.

Is it hard sometimes? Yes, it will often require courage. But do it. Take a deep breath. Open your mouth. Have the conversation you are afraid of. What scares you might be the possibility of getting a no. Ask anyway. A no has often saved me a lot of grief down the road. 


2) Let your needs/wants/thoughts/desires be known.

I know you already feel like you are verbally leaping off a cliff when you do the first part, which is opening  your mouth and inquiring.  The next part is the challenge of forthrightly letting your desires be known.  But you can do this!  If you don't ask, the answer is always no. And even when you get a no, you can handle it properly if you just look at it in the right perspective. The goal here isn't so much getting your way as it is having open communication. If your goal is simply to get your own way all the time, that's another blog post for another day. ;)   

3)  Remain totally open to whatever answer comes back.

It's not always what I want to hear, but at least I have a solid response and can move forward from there.

The main thing I desire is to be in agreement with what God wants. If God doesn't want something for me, I sure don't want it!

For what it's worth, I'm ever so grateful for many of the times the answer has been no.

A no always spares you of things you aren't aware of! At least that's been my experience.

Peace comes to me when I pray for God to keep things from me that seem like blessings but would ultimately destroy me and I consider the things I don't receive as being in that category.

When I do not assume, I'm a lot happier. I know you will be too. Give the three steps a try and let me know what you think.

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