“Errant assumptions lie at the root of every failure” according to Peter Drucker.
In No Excuses, Brian Tracy warns that you must have “tremendous self-discipline and character to face the possibility that you could be wrong in your most cherished assumptions and beliefs.”
A stranger in a new land, I had a bush in my yard planted by the previous owner. It had two inch long thorns, but I let it grow assuming that it must flower in some other season. A year later it had grown in every direction and was huge, without a single flower. I wished I had cut it down when it was small and manageable. Although I did conquer that wicked thorn bush, it was not without injury. Reality did not live up to my expectations, and it was a huge effort to get it out of there.
During that same year, I was struggling emotionally. I lived way out in the middle of the country. Most of our few neighbors were gone most of the day, and my four year old and I had a 30 minute drive to the nearest grocery store. When she went to kindergarten, I was alone for most of the day for the first time in my life.
I had no idea how to enjoy so much alone time. I was struggling with being in a new area away from long-term relationships. I had a big child that was still throwing massive temper tantrums. So, I did the only thing I could think of to do. I complained.
I called up my parents and my friends and whined. I related all the difficulties. I didn’t like being a complainer, but I didn’t know what else to do about the situation or my problems. I explained the problems over and over until I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Finally coming to the conclusion that something had to change, I prayed for a friend. I cut up a milk container and put bird seed in it thinking that maybe at least a bird would come and lift my spirits. I went outside and hung it in the tree. I liked being outside because the loneliness was less oppressive. The heaviness lightened a bit, and I could breathe better.
The next day as I was going out to get the mail, I noticed there were still no birds. I felt pathetic. I couldn’t even get a bird to come visit me. Then, insult to injury, I saw a fuzzy tail in my bird feeder. A squirrel got in and was taking away the food.
Feeling as friendless as possible, I prayed again for a friend. I opened my mail box. Right on the top was the Friend magazine, our church’s children’s publication.
I felt loved. I felt seen. And, although I still didn’t have a tangible friend nearby at the moment, God reminded me of his love. He is our ultimate, always available friend.
I think it might have been because I was low enough to become humble and turn to him that I started to see how my assumptions had been wrong.
Even though I am friendly and enjoy meeting new people and making friends, I realized I still couldn’t expect a ten-year friendship in one or two years. Friendships take investment and nurturing and enduring together.
I also had a personal characteristic that I thought of as a strength. In a flash of understanding, I saw that I was making myself crazy by actually protecting and valuing something that I expected would one day flower.
Thank heaven, the Lord opened my eyes. I suddenly saw it for what it was, a big, thorny weed. I was almost sick and felt overwhelmed. It was like a weed that has runners underground. I could see that this weed affected nearly every aspect of my life.
It was very curious to me, then, how obvious it was. I wondered if that is normal, to be the last to know some things about yourself. It must be human nature to protect ourselves from seeing things we don’t want to see or can’t accept about ourselves.
But I also felt loved. Seeing it clearly was three-fourths of the solution. We can not solve a problem if we are missing the true picture of what the problem actually is.
I wrote it down for myself as a self-check that I keep on my desk. It says, “Is the problem you are trying to solve, actually the problem?”
“… the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.” (1 Ne 16 vs 2-3)
“I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.” (2 Ne 9:40)
I want to love the truth. I want to have that kind of courage! But sometimes, I don’t even like the truth. It isn’t what I wanted. It isn’t what I thought I signed up for. I want to fight the truth with all I’ve got. NO!
Living in a fantasy world of my own making is like sleep walking into walls. It is full of “could haves,” “should haves,” and “ought tos”. It is a lonely, disturbingly distorted place that trips me into hard falls and lands me in consternation, confusion and frustration very like Alice’s wonderland.
Fantasy has room for every assumption.
But, it isn’t healthy,
or productive to actually try to live there
and fight reality.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
(2 Timothy 1:7)
And so, to live every day a disciple of Christ, we must challenge our assumptions. Because we believe we know what is right, doesn’t mean we do. Could Abraham have guessed that taking his son to the altar was the right thing to do?
And, my fight must become a daily prayer:
Please open my eyes so that I can see.
Please free me from the fears and beliefs that so easily blind me.
Help me to see where there is something different I can do.
And, if there isn’t, please help me more fully trust in you.
About DarEll Hoskisson
DarEll S. Hoskisson loves to do hard things, but not too hard. She shares her own challenges, goals and experiences as she guides you into a realistic path of self-reflection and self-improvement. She shares tips on how to find, know and trust yourself so you can decide if other’s suggestions are right for you. DarEll has the world a little upside down—where work is play and play is work. She actually thinks other people’s problems are fun to try to solve and lights up with a personal challenge. She loves people, harmony, and excellence. She also loves useful things like tools and ideas that make work faster, easier and more fun. DarEll married in 1993 and graduated from BYU (1995) with a bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. Since then she was adopted by 5 children and has worked with many non-profits. She is currently a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor—leading pilates and yoga at her local YMCA. DarEll lives in Florida where she enjoys her family, nature, her work, and encouraging people to live well. She periodically posts her poems, what she is learning, and service opportunities on her personal blogs: https://personalabridgements.wordpress.com and https://darellhoskisson.wordpress.com