Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Recently my son was presented with an impatient and assuming attitude by an adult and his question was “why do adults think teenagers are so bad?”. My response was that most people are not well equipped in their hearts to assume the best about people. I went on to explain that this is born out of fear or over protection of something and, in his example, their reaction had less to do with what he was doing at the time and was more about issues in their own lives.
Over the years as my kids have faced disconcerting moments with their friends and family the one resounding message I’ve fallen back to is ‘assume the best.’ That’s not easy to do when your own feelings have been hurt – but in the end when you assume the best about someone it preserves a relationship and all relationships end up on the rocks now and then. Assuming the best helps get it off the rocks.
How do we assume the best? When a friend hurts us we assume that they still love us – they just might have been inconsiderate or thoughtless or downright selfish in their action. But sometimes we have to examine all the possibilities including whether or not our own perception is misguiding us and causing us to imagine a hurtful situation where one may not exist (or at least may not be as bad as we’re ‘feeling’ it). One example that springs to mind – one of the kids came home and thought they had been excluded from a gathering. I asked if they had been told specifically not to come or that it was only for those invited? It was neither one so I said assume that you belong, that they are your friends and that as a group they hadn’t really focused on making sure people were specifically invited or it had been assumed people would come as they were able. I gave them 20 bucks and said go join the fun and assume that you belong there, that they are your friends and love you. They did, it worked and they had a great time!
It gets more complex than that in many situations of course and sometimes people genuinely are thoughtless or intentionally hurtful. It’s still my conviction that we have a responsibility to be redemptive in our approach to all situations. That’s of course much different than being gullible but that’s a different discussion.
When we believe the best about someone we allow them to be human. We allow them to be wrong and we learn to value them for who they ultimately are in your life. Yes – there are degrees of application – but in the end when we take on this attitude we are better equipped to respond (not react) to those who are unable to believe the best.