I was a young trial lawyer. A middle-aged lady came to my office. Shirley (not her name) was broadsided by a fast-moving car. Shirley suffered bruises and soft tissue injuries. The police report gave me the name of the negligent driver. I could not believe that the name of the person at the wheel of the car which t-boned Shirley was…..“Speed.” What are the chances that I could sue a negligent, ticketed, and obviously irresponsible driver named “Speed?”
For this prayer I will call him Speed Stafford (not his last name). I promptly filed suit. The lawsuit was served on Speed Stafford. The time came for me to take Speed’s sworn deposition. He was represented by a prestigious law firm in downtown Houston. I assumed that Speed was a young and cocky inconsiderate driver. I assumed his distinguished insurance defense attorney had spent hours wood-shedding Speed on how to testify and what to say and what not to say. Most of all not to volunteer information. To just answer the questions I asked him and nothing more.
Fully prepared and armed with my assumptions about Speed Stafford and his attorney, I waited with the court reporter for them to walk into the conference room. That is when my assumptions proved false and foolish. Instead of Speed looking like the young and cocky man I assumed he was, Speed grandfatherly walked into the room wearing leather shoes, khaki pants and khaki shirt, a bola tie, and brass-rimmed bifocals. He could have been my dear Uncle Army Emmott’s twin brother.
Speed Stafford testified very well. He was well prepared by his lawyer. Followed his attorney’s instructions. Said nothing for me to pin one hundred percent of the fault on him. As I was about to conclude the deposition, I noticed that Speed’s legendary defense attorney had fallen asleep. I had assumed his attorney would never do that.
At that moment I said to Mr. Stafford, “Speed, as I conclude your deposition today, I have one last question. Do you have anything you want to say to my client, Shirley, before I stop asking you questions?” Speed replied, “As a matter of fact I do. The accident was entirely my fault. I am mad at my insurance company. I keep telling them to settle with your lady. I am deeply sorry for the injuries I caused to her.” Hearing what Speed had said, his defense attorney woke up. He looked surprised at what he heard.
When I returned to my office, the defense attorney was on the phone for me. He said, “Jack, we do not need to have the court reporter prepare the transcript of the deposition. We will pay what you are asking to settle the case.” The case was over. So were my assumptions.
Speed was a sweet elderly and honest man who made a mistake and freely admitted it. He took full responsibility for his irresponsible driving. The truth was revealed to me. I learned the truth by asking Speed the questions. By being curious. My assumptions were false. They were foolish indeed.
When I was younger and less spiritually developed, I made false assumptions about others based on how they looked. At the same time, I never wanted others to see me differently because I was in a wheelchair. Only God really knows who we are. To God we are special. We are God’s children. We are all God’s hope and gifts to the world. Why can’t we view others in the same way?
As a collaborative divorce attorney, I learned the importance of avoiding assumptions. I gained wisdom by being curious. By asking questions instead of thinking I already know the answers. In this way I hope I have a greater impact on healing broken hearts, repairing splintered co-parenting relationships, and sheltering children from the harm of litigation.
God has spoken in Scripture on the sin of assumptions.
Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.
To answer before listening– that is folly and shame.
Let us pray.
Dear God, I know assumptions can be good. Like most people are trying to do their best. Or most people have good intentions. But I know often my assumptions are wrong in Your eyes.
God, in prayer please help me to avoid assumptions. Sometimes my assumptions and prejudgments result in me relating to others in an unloving way. Please forgive me for that.
God, please caste away from me my harmful assumptions about others. My assumptions blind me from seeing others as You. Unblinded I will see Your loving light which shines on me through them. Amen
If you think Jack’s prayer helps you or will help someone you know, please forward it to them. Jack may never make millions selling books or writing prayers, but spreading God’s good news to others is reward enough for him.
Ann Boland, Jack’s Publicist