Two things happened this weekend that I couldn’t help but notice. First, our neighbor’s mailbox got whacked by somebody cutting a corner too much or not paying attention. There it stood, all cattywampus (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a sentence), pointing crookedly toward the sky. My first thought was that some delivery truck had done a hit-and-run number and didn’t bother to report the damage.
Second, somebody stole our Saturday newspaper. How can you live without your Saturday newspaper containing out-dated news you could easily find by turning on your computer?
Without knowing the facts, I had made two assumptions. There could be very rational explanations for both, but it is just too easy to assume, usually the worst.
Have you ever been the victim of a false assumption? Not a good feeling. Not easy to explain. Have you ever victimized somebody else with a false assumption? Not a good feeling. Also, not easy to explain.
It’s called prejudice. Prejudging others can get us into embarrassing and regrettable situations. We know just enough to make ourselves look foolish. You know, break the word assume down and you understand what assumptions can make you look like.
The subway car was full of tired, cranky commuters on their way home on a late, hot summer evening. At one stop, a man and four children stepped into the car. A seat was open from a departing traveler, so the man slumped into the bench with his hands over his face. The children, ages six to twelve, were loud and boisterous, laughing and pushing and running up the narrow aisle. They quickly became a nuisance. Hard glances were thrown at the children and their father, who didn’t seem to even notice that the kids were out of control. Finally, one of the commuters spoke to the man. “Hey, buddy. Can’t your control your rowdy kids? They’re bothering everybody in here!”
The man looked up, his face tear-stained. “I am so sorry. We’ve been at the hospital since early this morning. The kids don’t know it yet, but their mom died an hour ago. I’m lost and don’t know what to do next.”
There is a reason Jesus cautioned us to leave the judging to the only One capable of knowing all the facts. Lord, forgive me when I assume or jump to an unjustified conclusion. I need to show more grace. I needed to follow the rule, the Golden one: I should treat others as I wish to be treated.