Jumping to Conclusions

There is a broad canyon of information between knowing actions and knowing motivation. Perhaps that’s why we call hasty judgments “jumping to conclusions.”

There is a world of difference between the statement “You did this to me.” and “You did this to me because ___________.” The former is a statement about someone’s action. The latter is a statement about one’s motives. Action is easier to perceive than motivation. Actions are external. Motives reside in the heart and mind.

The only way to rightly perceive a motive is to communicate—to ask questions, to clarify, to listen, to understand. But that takes work and time.

And so, we usually jump to conclusions. It’s easier to take a flying leap across the significant span between observed-action to concrete-motivation. Of course, it often fails with a messy and fatal SPLAT! on the canyon floor.

More challenging is the task of bridge-building. The work of careful, patient, good-faith communication necessitates setting aside our pride. We must lay aside our certainty about our initial feeling, sense, and suspicion. This entails caring more about what is actually true of our neighbor than what we want to be true. In short, it requires love. And love usually involves dying to ourselves to give life to a relationship.

Each approach involves death. But only one promises the possibility of a life-giving relationship.


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