If I back up to our new house and start unloading a trunk full of liquor boxes, what will my neighbors think?
Going to the liquor store to get the boxes is bad enough. I feel like a teenager sneaking into an R-rated movie. I park off to the side, away from store traffic. Scanning the parking lot before I get out of the car, I check for church members or homeschool support group friends. I put my sunglasses on, even though the sky is overcast.
I’ve never been in a liquor store before. My family tree is dotted with alcoholics, and many branches have alcohol-related tragedies clinging to their tips. My husband’s family tree grows in the same orchard. His parents’ broken marriage, his own early addiction, and the broken lives and wasted years of so many of his loved ones make him avoid alcohol like the plague that it is. I don’t ever remember a discussion about it. We just knew—no alcohol would be consumed in our home.
Our background, plus the fact that my husband is a pastor and committed to avoiding anything that could be misunderstood, helps you understand my angst.
Now back to the liquor store. And my packing boxes. “Liquor store boxes are the best,” my daughter says. “They’re strong, not too large, and have dividers to help cushion breakables.”
My desire for my glassware to survive our move outweighs my liquor store boycott, so out of the car I go.
Mercifully, there’s a foyer of sorts before I set foot in the store itself. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a mountain of strong, sturdy boxes. Jackpot. Far more than my little Yaris can hold.
Craning my neck around the door without actually setting foot inside, I make eye contact with the cashier seated nearby.
“May I have some of these boxes?”
“Sure, take all you want,” he says with a wave.
Success—without technically going into the liquor store.
My concern over what my new neighbors will think when they see moving in next door what appears to be enough liquor to blitz the entire county makes me think.
I wonder how often I judge someone before I get all the facts? How often do I make an assumption without digging deeper? How often do I interpret motives based only on superficial evidence?
That last piece of pie that disappeared from the fridge? I know who ate it.
That dissenting vote at church? No doubt about who cast it.
That party I wasn’t invited to? I know why.
That conversation that stopped when I walked into the room? I know who they were talking about.
That look my husband gave me? I know exactly what he’s thinking.
So often we draw conclusions without giving others the benefit of the doubt. We automatically assume the worst, and act based on those faulty impressions. We create conflict that isn’t there, and set in motion a course of events that doesn’t need to happen.
What if, instead, we ask ourselves one or more of these questions?
Do I have all the information?
Could there be more to this than meets the eye?
Have I taken into account the person’s character and reputation?
Am I reacting based on my own insecurity?
Oftentimes, if we reign in our initial thoughts and approach a situation logically instead of emotionally or impulsively, we discover information that helps us respond correctly.
And sometimes we realize we don’t need to respond at all.
I’m heading back to the liquor store for more boxes. And I’m looking forward to meeting my new neighbors on moving day. In the meantime, my goal is to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19), and to think the best, not the worst, of those I meet (1 Cor. 13:7).
How about you? Have you ever impulsively jumped to a conclusion only to find you were wrong? How did you handle it? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.