There are so many times when I’m mentoring someone that I will hear the phrase “I know exactly why they did….” or “I know (this person) was talking about me, because I could just tell…” or “I know what she was thinking…she was thinking I was going to do…I could tell by the look on her face” and so on. God is the only one who with perfection, can accurately know a person’s intent. We may think we know, we may share the story with hopes to build a “case” and gain support for our theories (aka: gossip) but ultimately we do not know WHY people do what they do, and assuming often leads to several dangers which I’m going to address later. These dangers were recently made known to me when I did this very thing: assumed intent.
I started 2016 with a terrible pneumonia which manifested on Monday, January 4th! With a constant 104 degree temperature, and extreme fatigue I laid in bed for several days just trying to rest. Finally, when I made my way into the laundry room and after 4 days of being in bed it was quite full of laundry that needed to be cleaned. I must add that based my family’s lack of tending to basic household chores while I was sick I was not surprised to find the laundry room a wreck too; what I was not prepared for was the demand that I found there. To my utter dismay I found a note demanding that I clean a specific basket of clothes immediately (as noted by the explanation point.) It was clear that one of my children thought it would be acceptable to demand I clean his/her clothes. In my anger I texted a picture of the disrespect to my husband with the following note:
There is was written in black and white the demand: Clean! Next, I was about to text my mother the same picture because I knew she would be shocked to see such disrespect! Then my husband quickly responded to inform me that this was simply a note to ensure that I did not re-wash this basket because it was clean clothes that just needed to be folded and my daughter was trying to help me with the laundry but it was too late and she had to go to bed so she didn’t fold that basket, I laughed so hard at myself. What an example of misinterpreting intent! I so easily miscalculated the intent of a written message, imagine how much more we miscalculate when trying to discern non-verbal cues or actions that others take when we don’t ask them specifically what they intended!
Here are 3 dangers, and I’m sure there are more but these 3 surfaced right away for me during my incident with the note.
We believe a lie that we create in our own mind– In my situation the lie was: nobody does anything to help around the house and I obviously have done a bad job parenting because one of my children is extremely rude and disrespectful. In the case of some of the women I have talked to, it may be the lie that “so and so” doesn’t like them, or is mad at them because….(which has never been spoken). Perhaps they believe the lie that their mother-in-law thinks they don’t keep a clean house because every time she comes over she does the dishes and wipes down countertops! These are all assumptions based on our own “issues” and often do not have any truth in them at all.
We allow a seed/root of bitterness to grow– In my case, I was bitter that it seemed to be an expectation that I was going to clean these clothes, I was so bitter that I threatened to punish this child until Jesus’ return! Hahaha. So Christlike…just kidding. For other women it may be that they grow bitter about attending family gatherings, speaking to certain neighbors and they harbor this bitterness until it becomes an enormous, mentally-exhausting and sometimes all-consuming issue.
We sin– Once bitterness enters we may have a tendency to act out of pain/anger and gossip about the incident (I had to text my husband right away to gain support), or treat others in a way that does not show the love Jesus has commanded us to love one another with.
Don’t assume anything. When you feel that there is an “issue” or that someone has sinned against you at work, in your extended family or in your home that involves you specifically be sure to speak to the person directly and honestly and ask what his/her intent is and do not be afraid to share how that person’s actions make you feel. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Matthew 18:15 ESV) This requires patience, strength & humility which are all found in the Holy Spirit that dwells within you!
Who do you need to talk to today to discover their intent?
written by Jamie Shaver