In a previous post titled Perception or Truth, we looked at how we can observe behaviors of people and jump to incorrect conclusions about their actions. We also saw the danger of allowing the enemy to use our assumptions to bring us to sin through slander – and even worse ignoring the truth once it is heard.

Let’s look at the concept of assumption from a slightly different angle, in such a way that it leads to an unfair judgment of character. For these examples, let’s bring it closer to home by using more intimate relationships, those with a spouse, a family member, or a close friend. These are the people we tend to feel more comfortable with being ourselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  

We have plenty of fuel to make assumptions in these relationships because we interact with these people the most. A lot of these assumptions come from keeping records of wrongs or comparing tendencies for family traits.

How many times have we heard or said in a negative context: She is just like her mother, like father like son, he or she is just like my ex spouse, or the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree? We observe familiar traits and quickly make a judgment of character. Is this stamping of labels fair to the individual?  

Let’s bring this to life with a couple examples.

Uncle Bob is quiet and withdrawn because he suffered emotional trauma while serving in war. His son, cousin Charlie, doesn’t come to any family gatherings.  He doesn’t communicate well because he grew up with little to no communication in his home. Both men appear cold and unsociable. One may say, “like father like son,” and stop inviting Charlie to family gatherings. But these similar behaviors came about through significantly different reasons; and each behavior approached in a unique way may be modified. Though traits can manifest in similar ways, G-d doesn’t design clones. Bob may need professional counsel, whereas Charlie may just need a talkative friend to break him out of his silent years.

The next example is often seen in a second marriage. We may observe a behavior in our spouse that reminds us of a previous experience with our former spouse. In the moment, we can be quick to place an assumed outcome of this behavior that is identical to our prior experience.  We may even immediately multiply our reaction to the behavior based on old feelings. These are misplaced emotions.

In this scenario, the former husband went out every weekend with his buddies to play sports and neglected quality time with his wife. In her subsequent marriage, her husband tells her an old college buddy is moving back in town and he’d like to go play racket ball for old time sake. Red flags fly everywhere. She makes the assumption that this will turn into a habit as it happened with her old spouse. Immediate visions flood that her new happy marriage will turn sour with neglect. Her emotions on the subject are steep because she still holds resentment or she allows fear to seep in about the past experience. Either way, if she allows those emotions to guide her response, she will react on assumption instead of the truth of this present situation.

This same scenario can happen with a close friend who has an undesirable trait that we deem annoying. We can mistakenly compare friend to friend, trait to trait and overreact.

Every person comes to the place where they are based on a unique set of circumstances. More importantly, every person has a unique make-up and walk of faith that will direct how a behavior may play out. And some of that depends on our response. Everyone has to be looked at based on their own merit.

In ASKING why a person feels the way they do, has behaved in a certain way, or made a certain decision, we can communicate in truth and operate in a spirit of reconciliation. When truth is revealed, we shut the enemy up with his reminders of the past. We release ourselves from the bondage of negative thinking and holding grudges.  When we properly address a negative behavior as an individual event, the result can be a step to setting both persons free, one from the behavior and the other from the effects of the behavior.

Now, there are exceptions.  Some things we observe could be warning signs. G-d gives us senses to use for a purpose, and to warn us is one of those purposes. He also gives us discernment.  When a prior experience was a danger to our physical health, we would do well to discern when the same danger is in front of us, to seek safety and appropriate help. In all situations, we must seek the L-rd for His guidance and His truth.

I’d like to briefly address the flip side of this. We may find ourselves on the receiving side of the assumptions. I think we’ve all been there, incorrectly labeled by assumptions, and perhaps never forgiven for a mistake. If communication in truth has not been received by the other person, remember this, we can be thankful, that we know that we know, that our Father in heaven knows the truth of our heart, our character, and intentions. And He is the perfect judge who still sits on the throne. Amen.

Shalom! Peace!