A dear friend shared this story with me years ago… She was the youngest of three daughters, and often felt “less than” her older, talented sisters. As younger siblings often are, she was at times the recipient of teasing, criticism, and unsolicited advice from her older, more mature, and “wiser” siblings.
In later years she invited her family to her home for dinner and, of course, she hoped to please her family- but she also hoped to demonstrate her capable talents as a homemaker and gracious host. As they were eating dinner, one of her sisters asked, “Where did you get these pork chops?” My friend immediately began defending her choices of grocery stores, cooking methods and recipes. Her sister looked at her quizzically and then assured her, “No, I really LIKE your pork chops!”
How often do we hear or observe a few words or actions, and immediately leap to the wrong conclusion? I remember one particularly embarrassing moment for me. I was attending Buckeye Girls’ State, a week-long learning experience in government and election processes for high school girls. I’d made some new friends who were staying in the dormitory room across the hall from mine. One night, I fluffed some pillows into a body shape under my covers, and quietly went over to their room. We were laughing and talking when we saw the hall lights come on. Soon we noticed feet regularly pacing by our room through the space under the door. I slid under a bed just as the door opened and the adult chaperone hastily turned on the light, looked around, and explained with great irritation, “We are missing a girl!”
She didn’t see me and finally turned off the light and closed the door. I began breathing again! But I knew my relief was short-lived, because eventually I’d need to turn myself in. I couldn’t just sneak back into my bed and pretend nothing had happened! With a pounding heart, I went into the hall, found the chaperone and confessed where I’d been hiding. Her eyebrows raised as she exclaimed, “We didn’t know YOU were missing!”
I laugh about this now, but oh, how I’d jumped to the wrong conclusion! My leap led to consequences that I know were justified but that I could have easily avoided.
On a more serious note, how often do we leap to our own conclusions and assumptions about others? And sadly, it often seems that we leap to the worst assumptions! How often do we assign intent to another’s actions? A driver cuts in front of us in heavy traffic, and we believe he intended to do so- and oh, we are offended!- when maybe he just made a mistake. All too often we make those wrong leaps which only cause unnecessary heartache or trouble, or at least some (well deserved) painful embarrassment.
Today I hope to be more mindful of the leaps I make. To pause before jumping to the wrong conclusion. To listen a bit longer, to weigh what I observe with more grace and love. To notice what is influencing my reactions negatively and unnecessarily. To clarify the questions instead of reacting hastily or defensively.
To keep the questions simple.
Where did you get these pork chops?