There have been some ‘speed bumps’ that have occurred in the last number of months with various relationships that intersect my life. What has transpired has allowed a memory to come crashing back of a time in my early fatherhood when I was quite frustrated with my family life, to the point that I engaged a counsellor.
I remember the first session – well not all of it – but a couple of moments when I got busted. Here’s the story: I had this knack (and it continues to rear its ugly head at times) of expecting events to unfold in a certain way, which of course meant that people had to behave in a certain way for that particular event to unfold as I had envisioned it in my mind. (I hope you’re still tracking with me)… So when it didn’t, it would frustrate me to the point of…well let’s say I wasn’t the most pleasant person to live with (this is where my family came in).
What I said or explained to the counsellor is something to the effect that ‘people just don’t cooperate, or say, or do what they’re supposed to do!’ Or something like that, anyway.
He looked at me and with a very sly smile, said, “Ah, so you have a script written out in your head as to how things should go, and no one is following it. The only problem is that no one else has that script. Not really fair, is it?” Busted! He was right and I had to begin the process of learning to let go of my ‘need to control’. Instead, I needed to believe the best about others and let the day unfold in whatever way it unfolds.
That’s easier said than done. But I have learned.
And I have also learned something else.
I am not the only one who suffers from ‘controlfeakitis’.
Lately I have been on the receiving end of this with people who intersect my life in and outside of the church.
There are expectations they have of me…silent expectations. They come into the conversation, the meeting, the whatever…with an expectation of me that I have no knowledge of. It’s either what they want me to say or not say, do or not do, think or not think, behave or not behave in a particular situation.
Now some folks are quite adept at being able to ‘read’ people and can figure out what it is the person ‘really needs / wants’. In fact, they’re brilliant at it! I on the other hand have not been blessed with such a gift. There has been the odd time I have given it a go, only to fall flat on my face and make matters worse.
What I love about Jesus is that he couldn’t always read minds (his humanity) and so he would ask people, especially those who were sick and clearly needed healing, and others as well, especially those in his close circel. It would go something like this: they would be calling out for Jesus to have mercy on them, and he would not assume anything, but ask: “what would you like me to do for you?” That’s smart! He knew there was a danger in assuming things from people, and so he would ask. That is so simple, and I can’t believe that I haven’t thought of that sooner. That’s probably because I assumed everyone understood me.
I love how Jesus lived his life here on earth.
He treated all people with dignity and respect.
He flowed with life.
He followed the advice to never ass-u-me!