Some years back, I had just moved to a new city and joined myself to the fellowship there. After attending some services there, a sister caught up with me after the service one Sunday and said she wanted to see me.
We stood outside and talked. She said she had a restitution to make. I was surprised because I was new there and couldn’t even remember ever having a discussion or disagreement with her or anyone there.
When I asked what it was about, she said I came up in a discussion with her friends, and they had said some things about me. She said her conscience pricked her afterwards and she felt the need to apologise.
I said I forgive her, but out of curiosity I wanted to know what was said about me. It turned out they had said I was proud because of the way I related — or did not relate — with people.
You see, if you were there, you’d have probably thought so too. Back then, I just went to church with my Bible; the pastor says ‘Praise the Lord,’ I say ‘Hallelujah’; you pray in Jesus’ name, I say ‘Amen’; the service is over, I carry my Bible and go back to my house. If you cross my path from my seat to the door, I throw you a hello; if you catch it, good for you, if you don’t, better for me.
So, making friends was not really my thing. That’s why people like us are grateful for social media; the only place where weird things like me sending a friend request on Facebook can happen. I doubt if that can happen in real life.
(Imagine me, walking up to someone and saying, “Hi, can we be friends?”
*wakes up from nightmare*)
That’s why it doesn’t take time for me cancel a friend request I send that pends for too long. And that why it hurts when I go out of my way to chat someone up, and they ignore me. Or, when I call someone and they don’t pick up and refuse to call back.
But I digress. I was talking about how people draw conclusions about you without even knowing you yet. I explained to the sister that I wasn’t actually proud. The best way I could describe myself was to tell her I was shy. It was easier for us to become friends after that. Even with those her friends too. Before I moved from there, they were one of the closest people to me. We’re still good friends till now.
I’ve caught myself drawing conclusions about people too. Wrong conclusions. I still did it when I boarded a cab the other day. There were two women at the back already, and I didn’t want to sit between them as neither of them was willing adjust, so I sat in the front for the sake of convenience.
Shortly after, a young lady came and the younger of the women who was supposed to alight and let the lady go in, refused and insisted that the lady cross over her lap. The lady did without complaining. I didn’t look back from where I sat in the front, but I was annoyed. Then the same woman talked roughly to driver, yet I didn’t look back. All she did only made me draw my conclusions: she was rude.
Then we started the journey, and their discussions filtered into my ears from the back. In my silence, I was able to gather from their discussions that she was pregnant which probably explains why she couldn’t alight when the lady was to come in. Also she had just been duped by a younger, trusted neighbour, and she was on her way from the person’s parents, which probably explains why she talked ‘roughly’ to the driver. Needless to say, I felt bad about my rash judgements.
I know you’re going to say people should not transfer aggression to the innocent; I agree with you. But, how should I react when they do? Judge them? Definitely not!
I’m learning to give people a break in their lives. I’m learning to give them the benefit of the doubt. When you call someone and they don’t pick up, think to yourself, ‘They’re probably busy. They’ll call back as soon as they can.’ If they don’t, forget about it.
When you greet someone and they don’t answer, conclude within yourself, ‘They probably didn’t hear. Or, if they heard, they had something else bothering them; not that they didn’t want to answer me.’
When someone talks roughly to you, instead of thinking they are being rude, assume that they’re having a bad day and couldn’t help reacting the way they did.
Don’t always assume that you know who is calling, pick up. Don’t always assume that you know why they’re calling (or calling back), still pick up (again). Don’t always assume that you know what’s in a text, open it.
I know that I may not always be right with my conclusions about why some people act the way they do, but the (positive) conclusions I make give me peace of mind, and my peace of mind is more important than anyone else’s.
The logic is simple: always put a positive construction on people’s action. Don’t draw conclusions without asking questions. If you must draw conclusions at all before asking questions, let them be positive conclusions. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you are able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they really meant harm. And, even when you prove that, find a reason to make yourself happy.
Hello, can we be friends? 😕