Perfect People Reader???

13 Feb

Let’s keep going with our “Top-Ten” List!

(David Letterman style ; )

This year we will NOT assume:

10.  We know it all.

9.   We can read people perfectly.

As women, we know we are great at reading people. We feel confident in our ability to see what’s really going on, words unspoken. But no matter how good we think we are at this, sometimes (to our complete surprise) we get it wrong.

A few years ago, my husband and I took our four kids to the mall. After some shopping, we made our way to the food court for lunch and plopped down at the closest table of six. As we sat laughing about one thing or another, I noticed we were just a table away from a woman eating peacefully by herself. By the look on her face, I could tell she wasn’t very happy about it. My kids weren’t being obnoxious or anything, but they were definitely being kids (read elevated noise level : ).

After a few minutes, the woman sighed, gathered her things, and moved to a table much farther away. I felt bad and smiled at her several times with a “sorry about that” look. But no matter how many times I caught her eye and smiled, she refused to smile back.

Now I was annoyed. After all, my kids weren’t doing anything wrong, yet she was staring at them like they were. (She must not like kids very much.) Plus I was trying to be gracious, smiling and apologizing for making her move. The least she could do was smile back! This woman was obviously very grumpy and unhappy. So, very unlike me, I said something to that effect in a low voice to my husband.

As I did, the woman met my gaze, stood up, and marched right up to our table! I couldn’t believe it! The one time I blow it and mutter something I shouldn’t, I get caught. I was mortified.

When she got to our table, she looked right at me and said, “Excuse me. I know that you saw me move from my table a few minutes ago, and I wanted to explain myself.” Then, flashing a beautiful smile, she explained how she watched her grandkids every day for her daughter and that this was her day off. She thought our kids were so cute, but she had just wanted a few moments kid-free for a change. She hoped she hadn’t offended us by moving.

I was completely taken aback (and so relieved she hadn’t heard my thoughtless comment). We had a pleasant exchange of words, and this delightful grandmother ended up sitting down at our table and chatting with us for about ten minutes!

I learned a lot that day: 1) to not make comments I don’t want overheard. 2) to not assume I can read people perfectly. I may be good at it most of the time, but in this case, I was totally off. That woman wasn’t upset with my kids, grumpy, or unhappy. She was just taking a well-deserved breather.

I’m reminded of a woman in the Bible who met Jesus one day (John 4). Seeing Him sitting there by the well, she probably thought she had Him all figured out. It was only as she talked with Him that she came to understand who He really was—and it changed her life.

Let’s continue this year refusing to assume we can read people perfectly. Let’s take a minute to get to know someone first, to hear their story, to understand what’s really going on in a situation. Who knows? It might just change our lives!

Much love,


photo credit

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