I walked into the kitchenette to have my lunch on Thursday. As I brought out the food and put it into the microwave, one of my pastors asked, “Gideon, did you cook that food yourself?”
“No, Pastor, but I can cook,” came my response.
“I didn’t ask if you can cook, I asked if you cooked this particular meal yourself, and the answer is no,” she immediately corrected.
Then I realised what I had just done. It is what I call DEFENSIVENESS. I was being defensive, and I misjudged her.
It is what happens when we read meanings into other people’s words and actions, and assume they have a negative intent, even when they have not done or said anything that exactly proves such assumptions.
She only asked if I cooked that particular meal, and as we continued the conversation, I discovered her motive for asking was because she wondered how I could’ve met up with work after preparing such meal in the morning. It had nothing to do with her doubting my cooking ability. But because I wrongly judged her intents, I became defensive when there was no reason for it.
As simple as it looks in the scenario above, this attitude has killed a lot of relationships. It destroys homes and marriages, and causes avoidable and unnecessary battles.
The solution is for us to cultivate the virtue of always believing the best of others. Avoid assuming the motive of someone else and rushing to try to protect yourself by hurting them first. Avoid reading meanings into people’s harmless words and reacting based on your assumptions. When in doubt of a person’s intent, ASK and not prejudge on your own.