Jumping in With Both Feet

I did it again the other day.

I jumped to conclusions again.

I blamed people – always out to get me, always trying to do the wrong thing.

When I thought about it, when I heard the whole story, I was embarrassed…again.

Of course no one was trying to do me any harm. It was only a series of odd events that just lined up wrong.

“Be careful of what you assume, what you assume often becomes what you consume” ― Constance Friday

I teach students and friends that blaming people (and their character) is not the best first step to take.  Usually it’s the situation that’s the cause of things. But, I’m not always very good at taking my own advice. I too frequently jump to conclusions, believe the worst and seldom give the benefit of doubt to others.

Isn’t that the way it is with you? Emotions take control and feelings start to run our mouths. We start talking way ahead of our thinking (including reflecting and praying).

Why is it so difficult to give everyone else a break? This is actually a common phenomenon, a cognitive bias in human thinking that we all share. Correspondence Bias occurs when we believe other people mostly do what they do because of their dispositions (personality) and we attribute our own actions to the situations we encounter. She’s always late because of her lazy character. I’m late because there’s typically bad traffic at this time of day.

Do you see how this can cause all sorts of problems with other people we work with, in our families and even our close friends?

The best way to break free from this trap is first, become aware of it and then to start to pay more attention. Learning to pay more attention to the situations all around us that cause things to happen to everyone, like:

  • the dynamics of family
  • living in a hurry (too much on your plate)
  • insecure co-workers who keep dragging you into their drama
  • bad traffic on the way to work (and around your desk)
  • financial fears because there’s still so much that’s unknown about tomorrow

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” ― Abraham Maslow

Give other people a break, give yourself a break.

Stop using absolute language when talking about other people (always, forever, constantly, never, every time, etc.)

In the Gospel, Jesus challenges us to think about other people in a dramatically different way, “But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you” (Matthew 5:44). Thinking and then challenging your old assumptions about relationships will do wonders for fixing cognitive biases.

And, it might do wonders for you, the next time you’re ready to jump in with both feet…to look before you leap!

 

 

 

 

What Kind of Savior?

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What does your idea of God look like? How does it shape the way you have built your relationship with Jesus?

It all depends on where you think you are right now.

  • Are you sinking in a leaky boat?
  • Are you sailing around the bright blue sea in cruise ship?

Our perspective – definition of the situation – will always shape the way we approach God. Recent research revealed that Americans can be divided into four different broad categories based on their description of the God they believe:

  1. A benevolent God who is active in our lives in a positive way
  2. An authoritarian God is active in the world and our lives and is angry, handing out punishment
  3. A critical God who is not really active in the world but will in the afterlife hand out punishments
  4. A distant God who is a cosmic force and does not really hold opinions about human actions

All living in the same country, reading the same Bible, yet having developed very different ideas about who God is. Hard to imagine, huh?

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ― Anne Lamott

How do your current circumstances shape your perspective about God? What kind of Savior are you praying to each day? Someone who needs to help you with your dinner reservation on that cruise ship?  Or maybe you are in desperate need of someone to help you plug up all the holes in your life raft?

Is God here for you? Or are you here for God?

When you are trying to figure out who God is – the best place to look is at Jesus. Go to the Gospels and read what he said and look at what he did.  I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me. If you have trouble believing based on My words, believe because of the things I have done. – John 14:11 (The Voice)

When you are trying to figure out who God is…

  1. Don’t let your personal circumstances dominate your definition of God
  2. Think about how the society around you has shaped your perspective about God
  3. Listen to the way people you trust talk about God, really listen
  4. It never hurts to open your heart and mind and learn more about God – He’s too much to easily explain

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.  Here’s the point. God didn’t send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction. (John 3:16-17, The Voice)