Over the past decade or so I’ve become distanced from a number of people who once occupied a significant portion of my life. There are a variety of reasons why this happened. A change of jobs, a physical move, a new church. Those situations were not deliberate relationship breakers, but more a growing apart. It happens. That’s life. And, thankfully, I still have contact with many of them.
Then there are some that I’ve stepped back from on purpose. People who were close to me at one time. “Fair-weather friends” who hung around only when it suited them or when it was of benefit to them in some way and they all but ignored me when it wasn’t. Those hurt. And I had to make decisions to let them go. Those hurt too. But I have opportunity to connect with them from time to time and this is where the assumptions come into play.
These people seem to be the ones who think they know you better than you know yourself. They make remarks about what you like and don’t like. They joke about your past mistakes, leaving the impression that you’re still that person and have never grown past the errors. They talk about all of their accomplishments but never ask about yours. In other words, they make assumptions. They assume they know what you like and don’t like. They assume you are the same person you were ten or twenty or thirty years ago. They assume that any accomplishments you may have achieved are trivial in comparison to theirs.
How do I react to that? I keep my mouth shut.
I pray for wisdom and patience and self-control.
And I step back. Walk away. Leave the room.
Does it always work? No. I struggle to keep my temper under wraps and I fight the urge to lash out.
But I’m also learning to check my own assumptions about other people. Just as I have changed, so have they. What I knew about them in the past may not be the case anymore and I have to be sensitive to that.
And maybe – just maybe – there can be a new relationship forged.