Overcoming Dangerous Assumptions
Play is the highest form of research. - Albert Einstein
If this is true, my childhood was packed full of research.
We never grew tired of playing.
Whether jumping on the trampoline with the sprinkler underneath, playing tag on our bicycles through the neighborhood, or pedaling as hard as we could to Harmony hill where we'd place our feet on the bar and "let it fly" - the rush of adrenaline met with hands-on research.
Sometimes we'd play touch football or Jackpot with the boys across the street. One time this ended with a grouchy neighbor turning the sprinklers on us. ...The passive aggressive epitome of "GET OFF MY LAWN!"
We learned to respect the lawn boundary.
Snowball fights and forts...
Turning my Dad's truck into a pretend snow-cone stand...
Peppering in the front yard for hours on end until it's too dark to see the volleyball, let alone your partner...
Horse and Knock-out...
Gosh, so much fun to be had.
On road trips, we'd sometimes play "I Spy" to pass the time. We learned very quickly it's important to set boundaries. You can only pick something that is in the car. It's just not fair to pick something out of the car which may pass before everyone has a chance to see it.
The longer the round goes, the more demand for clues. You start hearing, "Give me a hint! I need a hint!"
Now, we're older - the three of us siblings. But, the fun doesn't stop. Nor does the game of "I Spy." It's not the three of us playing it now; it's the next generation of siblings - my nieces and nephews.
And let me tell ya, they've taken it to a whole new level!
It's not the small confines of a Jeep Wagoneer, Chevy truck or Suburban.
It's a place for sight overload.
And my favorite, sample overload!
It's a not-so-little place called Sam's Club.
And let me tell ya, it's a great spot for a killer game of "I Spy."
Two of my nieces (ages four and two and a half at the time) figured this out all on their own.
Walking down the aisle, my mom, sister and I were loading up on diapers and wipes, preparing for the next baby to join the crew in the coming weeks. Our conversation halted by these two munchkins of ours, riding in the basket side-by-side (which they call a "trolley"), playing "I Spy."
Oh, steady my heart!
It was so completely precious. Moments like these are stamped in my heart forever. Easy, pure, unexpected moments of the simplicity and fun - that is childhood.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote,
Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another. - F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'm right there with ya, Fitzgerald. So today, let's go from one childhood to another together as we recall the rules of "I Spy."
Rules of the Game
It's pretty simple.
My nieces like to play according to the list they hear us chatting about. Soon, it's "I spy crackers!" Instead of seeing it first, they say it until it's true.
The game of "I Spy" is built on one unspoken rule...
I assume you can see what I can see.
As adults, we're not playing "I Spy" but we still follow this same rule everywhere we go.
And what happens when I assume you can see what I can see? Well, it's not pretty. I almost always end up with my foot in my mouth.
Thinking about this more, I begin to realize how rampant assumptions are throughout our days.
Pulling up to a four-way stop sign down the street, we assume the other car or cars will stop. After all, that's the rule.
At work, we may assume others have the same background knowledge or resources or work habits or priorities as us.
Even in our favorite drive-thru, we assume "fast food" will be fast. We don't drive up thinking about kitchens being short-staffed or massive orders from the car in front of us or loud noises from the dining room limiting the server's ability to hear.
Even slow food, or going out to eat, we may assume our boxed meal will be what we ordered. I once opened a to-go box the next day expecting to see a delicious slice of banana cream cheesecake and instead was greeted with another table's half-eaten meatball sub.
We assume our kids' teachers and coaches will see the potential we see in them.
We assume our spouse will understand the need for a moment to decompress after a long day while they assume we'll understand their craving for adult interaction and conversation after a full day of chasing and caring for littles - or vis versa.
Essentially, we're thinking - I spy with my little eye...
...a routine traffic stop, effortless collaboration with balanced initiative and support in the workplace, a quick combo meal, leftover delicious dessert, encouragement and favor poured into our kids, an evening that meets my needs...
And the list goes on and on.
Let's Talk About Boundaries
Remember what we said was the important part when playing "I Spy" in the car?
Making sure the other has the opportunity to see what we see so clearly. How do we build these boundaries for ourselves? How do we protect against dangerous assumptions?
Well, we don't have to look far. The answer is in the childhood game. As the round grows longer, what do we do? Yep, we start asking for hints. Aka, we communicate!
Communication serves as protection against dangerous assumptions. Sometimes it's verbal, sometimes it's non-verbal.
We may give a friendly wave to the other driver as we pull up to the stop sign.
We may start tasks and projects by asking questions and understanding our colleagues better.
We may call our spouse on our way home from work and ask for an overall temperature of the house. We might even ask, "Do you need a break? Do I need to take the kids outside? Do you have a lot on your mind that we need to chat about tonight?"
Doing this, we move from assumption to patience and clarity.
Communication, it's a beautiful thing.
After giving us some rules for providing peace and order in our homes, Paul teaches us in his letter to the Colossians, to walk in wisdom with others and use our time wisely. He continues,
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. - Colossians 4:6
In order for our words to be gracious, we need ...salt?
Well, salt is a preservative. We can preserve and protect our relationships by choosing our words carefully.
One way we do this is by laying down our assumptions and thinking about how we "ought to answer each person."
We begin to wonder before speaking - What are they seeing? What are they experiencing? How can I be helpful to them? What are their needs?
I often speak according to my own needs. But, salty words benefit those who listen. If our words are to be seasoned with salt and protect and preserve our relationships, we must take the time to understand who we are with and speak according to their needs.
Let's build strength in our relationships as we intentionally choose to lay down assumptions. Let's find joy in wonder and trying to understand what others are seeing. Let's find peace in honoring God with the words we use and rest in His overflow of grace.
P.S. It's hot out there, but you're never too old for a day at the park!
Go cool off with your favorite people - all you need is a bucket of water balloons and a cooler of SNOWBALLS! Silly sunglasses and dollar store lei's only add to the fun!
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
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