Last year I turned 30, and went all out with a cocktail-style birthday party. I’d been chatting with my friend about it; let’s call her Anwuli, because why not? Anwuli was so excited to attend.
Between her crazy work schedule, demands at home, and volunteering at church, she’d had less of a social life. I told her she could bring her daughter along, but she was going to get a sitter because she just wanted to relax and have fun at my party. We even talked about what she would wear, and I teased her that she had better not show up better dressed than me.
Well, the day came and Anwuli was nowhere to be found. Now here’s how the gist would typically go – “can you imagine Anwuli? Would you believe she didn’t show up to my party after all? She’s just all talk. I so can’t stand fake people”. But here’s what really happened. The next day, I started going through my voicemails. Lots of people had called to wish me a happy birthday, but because of the party, I’d missed the calls including Anwuli’s. Her husband had been in a terrible car accident!
Why are we so quick to jump into conclusions? We don’t see someone in church for three months and immediately conclude they backslid. Perhaps they have been away traveling for work, and are hoping that someone, maybe you – the expert at drawing conclusions, would give them a check-up call. To pour kerosine into fire, after we make these assumptions, we call up other people and start gisting about these things that are totally made up in our heads.
Our relationships are too valuable for us to just throw away because we are making incorrect assumptions. Allow room for “what ifs”. What if Mr. X cancelled dinner because he has a lot on his mind and just needed time to be alone? What if the reason is anything else but what’s on your mind? What if there is a logical reason on the other end that they just cannot share with you? Just what if? My rule of thumb is to assume nothing unless:
- there is evidence, or
- there is a pattern formed over a long period of time.
Your assumptions might very well be true, but refuse to believe them. Matter of fact, don’t even let it linger on your mind until you have had the chance to discuss with the other party to truly understand the context behind their actions. Sometimes this opportunity may never present itself, in which case, err on the side of giving them the benefit of doubt. Now here’s the shocker – the reason for someone’s action or inaction is not always about you. They have their lives too, and you may not know the half of it.
Happy Thanksgiving fine people! Oh so thankful for you, that you read the words that I type. What an honor! Remember, hard as it may get, it still could be worse. Let’s be thankful for where we’re at!
Let me know what you think; am I oversimplifying the “what if” topic?
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