Monday, August 25, 2008

the tyranny of assumption

Age and maturity have left an impression on me, most often recognized by the odd noises I make in such strenuous endeavor as tying my shoes. Middle age is here to stay... and whodathunk that middle age was referring more to my waist size than the number and weight of the candles on my birthday cake?

Middle age DOES come with some benefit; there are some assumptions I have been conditioned to make that help conserve energy and the joints, these raw resources spent so frivolously as a youth, but conserved now as the true treasures they are. And I've been thinking today about a helpful assumption I've come to embrace.

I call it the "Lowes Assumption", because I have come to realize that my assumptions, while worthy of names, don't merit the audacity of naming them after myself. Unlike "Boyle's Law", or "Planck Constant", I have deferred MY brain trust to other entities, and as we peruse this one nugget of brain matter, it may become more obvious why I would be so humble. I'm starting to believe my humility is simply accurate assessment.

"Lowes Assumption", states, "for every unfamiliar job I find at hand, there is some equally unfamiliar tool at Lowes that accomplishes this particular job in the most efficient and least painful way, and the cost of the tool varies proportionally with the pain and aggravation of the job"

Got hair stuck in your drain, Lowes has a doohickey that looks like a Zip Tie with little fishhook cuts on each edge... hair in the drain rates less than $3.

The right tool for the right job.

Wisdom starts by embracing an assumption that I didn’t naturally have… up to some point in my life, I approached every problem as if I were the first to have ever experienced it. I reinvented the wheel pretty regularly, and in doing so, wasted some precious and irreplaceable resources.

I have learned that better than answers, I need good questions. Good questions are only possible when I examine my presuppositions; if I assume I’m the first to every experience something, then I’m not likely to seek out wisdom and experience from others.

Ask any question, and then analyze the question… what is assumed in the question… and might it be that the assumption is wrong or that the assumption somehow unnecessarily limits the possible answers?

So here’s a question for God.

God, why am I dealing with the pain and pressure that comes with having less money than I need?

And the assumptions…

· Pain is bad and needs to be dealt with
· Pressure is a bad thing too
· That there is a reason, and if God “tips His hand” I might be able to fix the issue
· That what I believe I need, I actually need
· That there is a better option than what I’m experiencing, and that God should help me find a different experience; a more comfortable experience
· That my comfort is a high priority to both me and God, and that reduced discomfort is by definition a good thing

After challenging my assumption, a “better question” might be to acknowledge the pressure and pain, yet make no further assumptions, to ask for an interpretation before asking for a response.

God, I feel this pressure and pain, and I am not sure how I should interpret it… and without interpretation help, I don’t know what my reaction should be. Lord, I invite you into this, and ask for guidance in interpretation, and wisdom in how to use the interpretation as I decide how to handle this issue.


Lord, free me from the tyranny of my own assumptions.



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