In My Job:
Part of my role at work is to help educate others on how to respond to a surveying process when they are asked to explain the how's and why's of the way they are doing their job. Having someone question you and/or watch you do your work can be very unnerving, so we discuss in advance what to expect and how to respond in an effort to help ease the stress when the moment comes.
One of the responses we educate to is, "If you are asked a question and you don't know... don't make something up. Don't pretend to know. Instead, respond that you aren't sure but that you will get the answer."
We have discovered that to pretend to know gets us in trouble with incorrect responses more often than not.
And then that plays out in my life....
In My Life:
Not so long ago I was meeting with someone who I hadn't had contact with for quite some time. Our paths have often crossed as acquaintances in days gone by, but we hadn't really ever spent much time together.
She went through a horribly tragic and horrific situation a few years ago. I knew her as an acquaintance, and in that connection fervently prayer for her in the midst.
I knew her to be involved in a church, working for a Christian employer, and knew many of her mutual friends. I assumed her to be surrounded with care, concern, support, friendship.... And initially she was!
As I recently met with her and this situation came up, our conversation revealed that perhaps she hasn't been as surrounded and supported in more recent months/years as I had assumed.
And the hard but needed lesson came to my heart. "Don't pretend to know."
I left our conversation feeling overwhelmed with grief that I had assumed she was being supported in ways that she has not been.
I am thankful to say that God has used that time in her life to grow her in Him... and he has now used it in my life to teach me to not assume. To not pretend that I know.
Note to self: ASK! "How can I best come alongside, support, and encourage you? How can I be a friend to you during this time?"
In My Prayers:
And then it trickles into what I have learned and am trying to increase in my conversations as I pray for people. I can assume I know what's going on in their lives, their hearts, their minds. I can assume how they would want to be prayed for. But once again I am prompted, "Don't pretend to know." And so I am learning to ask this one simple question in increasing measure.... "How can I be praying for you?"
As I am intentionally trying to put this into practice, sometimes I get a response. Sometimes I don't. Regardless, at least I know the other person knows I am wanting to pray, to care, to support, to be a friend. And I continue to love and pray... no matter what!
What about you? Have you learned the art of asking these types of questions? Have you ever been praying for or supporting someone in a way you thought was needed, only to find out something entirely different was needed? What other ways do you connect with others to discover how to love them well?