Advent Week 3: Love & don’t make assumptions
Welcome to week 3 of our Advent Series as we look at the 4 Agreements and the advent themes, looking for the lessons and messages they have for us. And we can find those messages everywhere; sometimes where we least expect it.
Asked to tell the Christmas story in their own words, a group of fifth graders at Rev. Kurt Condras’ church pretty much shared the basic version we all know from hymns and pageants: Joseph and Mary, a donkey, angels, star, stable, kings, shepherds, and, of course, baby Jesus.
As they talked about each character, one student noted that under normal conditions kings and shepherds would never hang out.
What that means for us, they said, is that from his birth, Jesus taught that we should love everyone: black, brown, or white; rich or poor; cool or nerdy; gay, straight, or questioning; Democrat or Republican.
At our core, they said, “We are one in God’s love.” It’s a view of unconditional love that defines Christ consciousness quite succinctly …
There is an incredible sense of power and freedom in both giving and receiving love without condition or expectation. The experience can be so profound that we lose track of whether we’re the giver or receiver …
This is called “Love without Assumptions”
And that is our third week in Advent; our third agreement, “Don’t Make Assumptions.”
Love – true love – is assumption free – and that when we lose those assumptions, we lose judgment and discover a deeper love – the Love Jesus taught, unconditional love.
“Love is who we are, and no season can contain it,” Sara Bareilles affirms in her song “Love Is Christmas.”
It’s true about each of us, and everyone else too.
Making assumptions is dangerous because we often have no idea what is really going on in a situation. Almost everything we tell ourselves is an assumption.
Think about that for a minute…everything you tell yourself, and that’s a lot, is an assumption.
Humans have a need to explain and justify everything; we have a need for knowledge, and we make assumptions to fulfill our need to know. We don’t care whether the knowledge is true or not. Truth or fiction, 100 percent of what we believe, we think is true and we go on believing it, because just having knowledge makes us feel safe.
And that statement right there explains a lot about what has been happening through this ‘interesting’ year.
Let’s say it again…
We fill in the blanks in our minds with information, and then we’re pretty convinced we know what’s going on. Spoiler alert: We don’t. We’re prone to mistaken beliefs and acting on these mistakes will cause more trouble.
This is a hard agreement to follow because we make assumptions so often, and making assumptions comes so naturally. We’re usually impressed with our own insight. We think our assumptions are true.
It’s like last week when were we discussed “Don’t take things personally” our ego can get in the way of what we think of the world that surrounds us, so we think our assumptions are correct.
And how can we make an assumption about love? Have YOU made an assumption about love?
That could be dangerous for both persons. Some unpleasant things can happen and assuming can often lead to conflict.
Think about the last misunderstanding you had with a loved one…how did it start? Be honest…’be impeccable with your words’…. was it an assumption either of you had about the other?
Assumptions => Misunderstanding => We’re offended and take it personally => We lash back => Big drama ensues
Making assumptions and taking things personally (agreements two and three) go hand in hand, leading to gossip, conflict, and suffering.
What’s the biggest assumption of all? We think everyone sees life exactly as we do. In fact, everyone sees the world through their own unique way. If you don’t communicate with someone else about how each of you is seeing the world, you create misunderstanding.
This chaos in our minds, leads to misunderstandings and misinterpretations. We simply don’t perceive things the way they truly are.
- Here’s an example: You’re at the mall. Someone you know and like gives you a warm smile from a distance. You decide she likes you. Loves you! You’re going to be so happy together. You create a fantasy, a story that likely has no semblance of reality. You set yourself up for disappointment, embarrassment, or heartache. You potentially put that person in an awkward position. All from an innocent smile.
- Assumptions are particularly dangerous in relationships. We must be clear in communicating what we want because no one knows what we’re thinking.
- Example: You and your partner agree that you’re in a relationship. But if you two have different ideas about what it means to be in a relationship and don’t clarify the issues, anger, and hurt feelings ensues. You fail to meet each other’s expectations.
- We often go into relationships with blinders on, seeing what we want to see. We make dangerous assumptions such as “My love will change him or her.” (Of course, there are certainly no guarantees that anyone will change. Real love accepts others the way they are without wanting to change them. And remember, we can’t change another, they must want to change.)
The danger isn’t only in making assumptions about others. We make assumptions about ourselves. We underestimate or overestimate ourselves, leading to disappointment, self-doubt, and recriminations.
How Do We Stop Making Assumptions? Communication and Clarification
You stop making assumptions and jumping to conclusions by asking questions!
Have the courage to seek the truth. If you know the truth, you don’t need to make assumptions. And if you don’t make assumptions, you don’t make mistakes.
- Here’s an example: You’re convinced you didn’t get the promotion you’ve been working toward. Your coworker went to lunch with the boss. Surely that means she got the job! Or so you assume. You get anxious and stressed.
- Solution: Don’t make assumptions. Ask if the promotion has been decided already. Find out what you need to do to receive the promotion. Have regular meetings with your boss and be clear about your desires and ambitions. Don’t overanalyze tiny signals that may not mean anything. Focus your energy on finding out what the truth is.
Be comfortable asking questions you’re afraid might be too simple, like “why do you feel that way?” “What motivated you to do that?” “What would you do in my situation?”
Or my favorite “Tell me more…”
Remember: there are no bad questions.
If you ask these questions in the right tone, which is especially important, they are fantastic questions to get rid of assumptions on both sides.
To stop making assumptions we must:
- First understand how important this agreement is and how assumptions lead to misunderstandings.
- Become aware of our tendency to make assumptions. We can’t change what we’re not aware of.
- Ask questions. Learn the facts about a situation.
- Communicate. You won’t have to make assumptions if everyone’s on the same page.
- Take action. Forge a new habit of NOT assuming and seeking the truth instead. Do this over and over, establishing a solid foundation.
When we stop making assumptions, we take the blinders off. We understand what is truly happening in our lives. We are on the same page as our spouse, children, friends, etc., with honesty and open communication. We’re less likely to be blindsided by unpleasant truths because we already have a clear understanding of a situation.
Be aware of the stories you are telling yourself. They are filled with assumptions. We let our wonderful imaginations go on a roll and before you know it, you have convinced yourself that something is perfect and it will happen or the person you have been day- dreaming about is out of your league, when in reality, she or he has been dreaming about you too.
ASK SOME QUESTIONS!
There are so many things that the mind cannot explain; we have all these questions that need answers. But instead of asking questions when we don’t know something, we make all sorts of assumptions. If we just ask questions, we won’t have to make assumptions. It’s always better to ask and be clear.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. And love will be part of our life.