Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Projecting Assumptions

Assumptions without clarifications leave broken hearts and messes careful what you assume or could be wrong.

Chew on that for a bit and as you digest it, think about some assumptions of people you have and what that causes.

So I’m having this conversation with someone I consider to be becoming one of my friends the other night on Facebook chat. We are having a pretty interesting conversation. At the end they say they are sorry for being a jerk and that they are not frustrated with me but themselves. I told them thanks for being cordial but I didn’t buy that for one minute. They end up fessing up and say that they will tell me why they are frustrated with me and that it may be a little offensive. I’m always up for a good heart to heart so I say, ok shoot. Apparently I said something that offended them and they had not told me. This caused them to be frustrated with me and that makes perfectly good sense, harboring things creates bitterness which creates tension in relationships. So I ask why that offended her and she told me she assumed that I was trying to say something that I actually had no intentions of. Sorry for the vagueness of the conversation, but I will always keep things like this anonymous. Well, my interest was peaked not because of what I said because there was really nothing said horribly offensive, it was the assumption about my attitude or heart behind it that captivated me. So here’s the question I asked, “Why do you automatically assume I think that?” So here is the conversation…it is kind of long, but hopefully you can stand it long enough to kind of put yourself in it:

ADAM: me too friend...but I know even if I close my eyes and cry along the way...God is in control and as long as I follow Him I will be victorious...
living in "my world" sucks because people assume I think I have it all together or that i dont have problems or that I am arrogant, but it is the world I choose to live in the path i follow, the path of Christ

FRIEND: haha yeah, thats exactly what i assume

ADAM: most do...people who read my blog tell me sometimes they think that when I write i think i know it love when people assume that I assume

FRIEND: haha to be honest, i think that a lot when i read your blog

ADAM: it goes that way but i can't help what others think...I know where my heart is and God does to, so I just keep grindin
this is why it is hard for me to find close friends

FRIEND: why?

ADAM: because people assume they know what I think...people think they know what I think and then judge me...but i wont stop doing what I do unless it offends Scripture

FRIEND: hmmm, interesting, i guess in a way thats true...

ADAM: is terribly isolating
not something i love to talk about...but it is what it is

FRIEND: i mean, when i first started hanging out with you guys, i was hesitant to talk to you much because i felt like i couldn't be myself around you. because i felt judged. and i guess by assuming you were judging me, i was judging you...

ADAM: ding ding ding...genius! now that we are being frank with each other....what made you think that?

FRIEND: i don't know... let me think for a second....

FRIEND:ok, i don't know how to say this without being offensive

ADAM: please...i can handle it

FRIEND: haha right. you're a man. got it. :P

ADAM: nah not like that like please asking you to

FRIEND: ok, its comments like, before when i said that even though i know God's opinion is the only one that matters, but i still have a hard time ignoring the opinions of others... i was being vulnerable. but your response was about how you DON'T struggle with that issue...

ADAM: that makes you assume what?

FRIEND: i was being vulnerable because its an opportunity to connect with someone humanly. but by telling me that you don't struggle with that, in my head, it puts you up on the next level. you don't struggle with the things that i struggle with. you've got more faith than that.

ADAM: ah so it has nothing to do with me then right?

FRIEND: hahaha wrong

ADAM: lol...I think it is funny that peoples own insecurities get projected on others. there is nothing wrong with struggling....I struggle with different things that you may not but just because you don't i will not assume you are better than me or think that you think you are

FRIEND: ok, you asked me why people assume you judge them. i'm trying to explain. try to listen.

ADAM: i am please continue

FRIEND: a lot of times i get the feeling that you give the "right" answer, rather than a "real" answer

ADAM: how so? again we are moving back towards your assumptions

FRIEND: of course we are. but you said that its not just me, right? others make these assumptions about you as well?

ADAM: right im trying to explore why these assumptions exist...if it is something I am actually doing or just them assuming without clarifying with me before they talk off on this fantasy ride of false assumption and emotions

FRIEND: ok. don't you think it might say something that many people make these same assumptions?

ADAM: yeah but I still can't get a straight answer to what causes these assumptions outside of more assumptions

FRIEND: how you present yourself.
straight answer.

ADAM: so change myself in order to fit the needs of different insecurities?

FRIEND: no. look in the mirror and try to see what everyone else sees.
adam, i think you are a great guy. but i don't think you always portray yourself that way.

ADAM: i have these conversations and no one has ever given me anything but i think and i feel and i assume answers...that doesn't help me

FRIEND: but thats what we're talking about. we're talking about the way that you make people feel. what people think of you. what people assume about you. and all of those things are, yes, formed by the person doing the thinking, feeling, and interpreting. but they are also very strongly effected by what you say and do.
so you could just say that people are making wrong assumptions about you, or you could look at WHY they make those assumptions, and work on that

ADAM: thats what I am trying to do...but I cannot accommodate people's view of me if it is based upon them having an insecurity which it always is

ADAM: alright im done...too much for one night. see you in the am

FRIEND: yeah, alright, but keep thinking about this, ok? i think its important

ADAM: i think it is if there is an answer but to chase your own tail is pointless
emotionally draining

FRIEND: hahaha i tend to have that effect sometimes. sorry bout that

ADAM: nope don't be you are who you are and I accept you...I will only tell you to change if it offends Scripture.

FRIEND: hey. thanks for being willing to be a little vulnerable with me tonight.
i'm glad we're friends

ADAM: night

FRIEND: and i'm sorry if i've judged you.

Ok, so I know that I have a problem with being too upfront sometimes. It is all in love, but sometimes people just aren’t ready for it. So I will openly admit that is a thing I struggle with and that I have to ask God grace for each and everyday. The focus of this writing is not speech, although the way Christians speak is a huge deal. The point of this writing is to hopefully take you into self examination of your own library full of assumptions you let dictate and guide your thoughts and actions.

Regardless of what the situation is, can it be right to assume things about people without discussing it with them or at least telling them you are starting to assume things? In this case, just like three others I have had this year the person gets offended by my bluntness and holds it in and becomes a little bitter. So they take that miscommunication and hold it in and then they let that little offense effect everything else so then they just have this general attitude towards me that I can feel. This is only me though, think about tense relationships you have. Do you need to air something out? Do you need to confront that person before a simple offense turns into bitterness and assumptions?

If these things are not handled right when it happens in the appropriate setting or timing before you go to bed, bitterness happens and gives birth to assumptions. Now the assumption was based upon another assumption they had. You see how this builds into a nasty nasty thing? So her offense was based on an assumption that I tried to simplify her problems to a list…that assumption is based on the assumption that I think I know everything…that assumption is based upon….that is still out to be determined.

I think this all has to do with a simple idea called projection. Philosophers and sociologists think they are pretty slick with their cutting edge ideas, but are actually a little behind times. When I was taking a couple sociology classes at a state college I was attending in Florida I learned of this term projection. Projection is basically casting your insecurities on others. Here is another way of putting quite well said by a good friend of mine, “The contempt we hold for other people's tendencies usually isn't a reflection of their poor character--rather, it's usually an indication that we see some part of ourselves in them and despise it.” Again, true statement. James was truly the originator of this idea, read the book of James and when you come to the beginning of Chapter 4 you will see this idea of projection laid out.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

What causes these assumptions? What causes these disputes and fights we have? It is us wanting something but not having it, it is us having some kind of flaw and seeing someone who does not have it and becoming angry, it is us projecting our insecurities on others. Assumptions are interesting because they are this little internal thing you keep in your mind hidden from others until something happens that exposes it and then it makes a whole mess of things.

Again, I am not saying I don’t have flaws and things I need to look at within myself. There is responsibility on my end of things. So this is not saying there is no wrong on my end. But again, like I said above, this blog is not about that. This blog is about why people, including myslef have assumptions in generally, not just specifically to me. So the warning I will offer about my blog from here on out is that you do not have to agree with what I say or what I think. You do not even have to read my blog. So if you have assumptions coming into things or reading stuff, be cautious of them because they could be wrong.

Do you have battles in yourself over your own desires? Do you want something, but don’t have it? Do you see strength in others where you are weak and want that? I say yes, I do this and I say yes, you do too. We all do what James warns us against, that is why he warned us against it. What’s cool about this is that it doesn’t end in scorn alone. James says that we don’t have because we do not ask with the right motives. If we seek God within His will and seek Him with our all, He will give to us freely all that is good in His will. I am an extreme critic of myself, when things happen I ask what I did, how could I have done or not done something better or worse, where is my wrong in this all. I challenge you to examine yourself for things you lack. Do not let these wants cause assumptions which always end up in quarrels. May you seek God for what you do not have. May you love others. May you always seek to resolve offenses right away and before you go to bed. May you always be leery of your assumptions, they could be wrong.

So I say again,

Assumptions without clarifications leave broken hearts and messes careful what you assume or could be wrong.


  1. I think the thing about assumptions is how they are derived and what is done with them. I don’t believe any one of us is above making them. Our minds start forming thoughts of who someone is the moment our lives are introduced to theirs. I think you hit it with the importance of clarity. I’m finding more clarity in my own life and perceptions as I listen more than I speak, not to say words don’t have their place.

    I know you said this post is about being careful about making assumptions and judgments, and not so much about the particular fault you mentioned people are assuming about you; but I have often found some element of validity in the way I’m perceived by those I would consider part of my regular community. It’s good that you are allowing those who mention these thoughts explain their reasoning, and that you say you want to learn if you are in the wrong in some way. But, if you are only coming back to their insecurities be sure to take these assumptions to God. I don’t believe we are to change our lives to fit a certain image criteria, but we sometimes need to make changes in our presentation of the right thing so our expression is not standing in the way of God’s love rather it is reflecting it.

    Assumptions are a frustrating thing.

  2. I think you misunderstand the blog. The blog admitted fault, but it focused on the other end, the assumption and insecurity is not to ignore my own responsibility (which was mentioned twice in the blog) but rather call out a truth that was illuminated to me by reading the James text. I did not go into detail about the other because it would be a book instead of a blog. Thanks for your thoughts though. Grace towards fellow beleivers is something I struggle with because they have the same standard to live by that I do, The Bible, and I am broken to see some not live by it. Just the way God has wired me I guess.

  3. I understand what you were sharing here; I guess my thoughts just differ somewhat. I look at the link between assumption and insecurity a little differently. I believe assumptions have a greater tie to absent, overlooked, or ignored information. Obviously, it is a result of the initial broken relationship between God and mankind. Our relationships with others are impacted. I see a difference between brokenness and insecurity. I think insecurity develops when we try to handle our brokenness outside of God. I agree that it can be a factor in some of our assumptions, but assumptions are broader than insecurities.

    We naturally create assumptions in all senses of the word to piece together what is before us. They may be incorrect many times, but they are a part of our brokenness. Since we were designed to walk in a perfect relationship with God, we constantly attempt to make things whole. This impacts all elements of what we do. As I mentioned I completely agree with you that clarity is so important in all of this. It can’t be found through sitting on assumptions. Communication is the avenue to clarity.

    The reason why I brought up handling assumptions was not to say you were ignoring the issue you mentioned, but all the understanding that we have about the issue only has value when we apply it. Since I have no control over others, I am only called to make application in my own life.