Friday, October 11, 2013
The Curse of Assumption
Assumption gets you into trouble. It is a proven fact. We all know what happens when a person assumes something . . . it makes an "ass out of you and me" (ass--u--me). It is a curse, and we all do it.
There are all sorts of assumptions that we can make in life. The worse is assuming that we know someone because of his or her titles, occupation, gender, age, race, or the way that they look. Because of these things--these"labels"--we assume that we know something about the individual who stands before us.
Trust me, I know. I have been on both ends of the stick, but lately it sees that people have been assuming a lot about me that ends up getting us both in trouble . . . or at least embarrassed.
One that I get a lot has to do with my employment at a university. The question I get asked a lot is what I teach at the university. Well, I don't teach at the university . . . I work at the university along with about a thousand other individuals . . . of which, the majority do not teach. No, I do not teach at the university. I am a project coordinator who provides professional development opportunities and trainings for educators. Whatever they want, I provide . . . my boss gets frustrated when I tell her that I am a pimp for educators. But, I do not teach. At the recent conference I attended, I was asked that question a million times . . . boy, was I the recipient of a lot of weird looks when I replied I didn't teach.
Another one I get a lot is generated from people finding out that I am an ordained member of the clergy--yeah, I am a minister. Usually, I get that "look" . . . the "look" that says, "You, a minister?" Of course, I reply, as I hoist my favorite microbrew to my lips. I seem to have that ability to shatter the assumptions of folks about ministers whenever they meet me. I enjoy a good glass of wine, a great microbrew, and letting loose with the occasional curse word when it is appropriate. I don't care much for three-piece suits. Black is not my favorite color. My nose is not in the Bible twenty-four hours, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks of the year. I cannot converse in King James language. I really do not care for potluck dinners. And, heaven forbid, I am lousy at quoting the Bible. But, I have been told by many, throughout the years of my ministry, that I am a good pastor. Damn right, I am! Assuming anything about me as a minister will get you into trouble.
Then there are all those assumptions about my age . . . my children have me buried within the next five years. Just because I am a card carrying member of the AARP does not mean that I have one foot in the grave. Far from it . . . I think that I have quite a few good years left in me. There are the assumptions about me as a member of the male classification . . . but, hey, I cry at movie . . . I like to do things that the brotherhood of machoism frown and cringe at when I admit that I enjoy them. There are assumptions about me being educated . . . stacked with degrees in higher education . . . that I am snooty, snobbish, and too big for my britches . . . but, hey, I was all of that before I ever got edumacated. Usually it is the other way around, most people think I am some sort of country bumpkin when they meet me. I am a pretty regular guy. Again, I blow most people's assumptions about me out of the water once they really get to know me.
That is the curse of assuming . . . but, there is the other side of assumption . . . the side that hurts. The side that hurts is when I begin to believe the assumptions people have about me . . . begin to believe that what they assume must be what I should be . . . begin to believe that I have to change myself to fulfill the assumptions of others . . . to fit their pictures of what and who I should be as a minister, fifty-five year old man, with education working at a university. It hurts trying to live up to other's expectations that are based on nothing more than assumptions.
Trust me, I know. There were years in my ministry that I attempted to be something and someone I was not. Thankfully I woke up . . . I even have put my three-piece black suit in a garage sale . . . I quit speaketh in the supposedly only language that God ever spoketh in--King James English . . . and, I quit swearing in the pulpit. I was miserable trying to live up to the assumptions of others. It just was not me. In fact, the only "ass" being made was me trying to be something that God did not create me to be.
So, I quit. No, I did not quit cold turkey; but, I quit. It has not been easy, because like everyone else, what others think still slips into the rock garden and messes up my life. But, I am trying . . . trying to be the best me that God created me to be. That is what God desires of me--to be fully who God created me to be. Unfortunately, it isn't quite what the world thinks I should be . . . or assumes me to be.
But this is not between me and what others think . . . this is between God and me. Thankfully, God is much more forgiving than the people in my life that I encounter on a daily basis. Because of that, I keep plugging away at trying to be who God created me to be. Some days I do it well, other days I fall into the curse of assumption. God is patient . . . God is forgiving . . . and, God is demanding. Demanding that I be who I am suppose to be, not what others assume me to be. If I can get that down . . . well, who cares what anyone else thinks.
It sure makes life a heck of a lot easier when not under the curse of assumption . . . you ought to try it . . . you just might like what you find. God will.