One day a while back my daughter and I were at the mall. We sat down in the food court to take a break and regroup when we noticed a boy a few tables over who was visibly upset. We estimated his age to be twelve or early teens. He had his head down and looked as though he was fighting back tears. His parents were with him, and they seemed to be looking for something. Soon two older teenage girls walked up and when he saw that they had not found what they were looking for he became even more distressed and put his head down on the table.
My daughter being of a technological mindset said that he had probably lost his phone. I told her that I didn’t think it was that simple. I reasoned that he lost something of more sentimental value. I told that a boy that age would have been frustrated but most guys would not be to the point of tears in public over a phone. So, I told her that I thought he lost something that could not be replaced. I went on to tell her that I thought that his grandfather had recently passed away and right before he died he gave his grandson a special coin. I reasoned that the young man was missing his grandfather that morning, so he slipped the coin into his pocket to keep his grandfather close. My daughter looked at me and with the accompanying eye roll said, “You are such a writer!” I took the compliment and filed the incident away to use later, as all good writers do.
My daughter and I had both made assumptions about that young man that day that had very little to do with him and much more to do with us. She imagined he lost his phone because she knew she would be upset if she lost her phone. I, however, came up with a less obvious plot because my writer brain just knew there was a story in the making. The truth was we neither one had a clue from a distance what the true reason for the young man’s pain that day. This was not an isolated event. We all make assumptions about people every day from what we see from a distance. Don’t we?
Many times, we treat people based on the assumptions we make when they may have a totally different situation going on that we know nothing about. Let’s treat people with dignity and let our assumptions be gracious instead of thinking the worst. When we think the worst, we act the worst.
“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14) (ESV)