The Danger of Assessing Another

You know what I don’t like about making new friends?


I used to be pretty decent at delighting in the person in front of me. It didn’t matter who that person was, what she was wearing, what he believed about predestination… I just really liked people. I thought about how cool it was that they were precious to God… that He formed them.

I didn’t assess them.

But I think I’ve forgotten something. I don’t know what that is, but it’s something important.

I’m still trying to figure out what happened between November and January of 2010, because it felt like I woke up one morning and the ground had turned to ice. Mostly, it’s just coincidence that it was winter, but life felt cold and slippery, and I don’t think I’ve fully regained my footing since.

At some point during those months, the girls I lived with figured out that I’m not what they want me to be.

Finding that out sucks. It hurts because it’s the strange realization that reality and expectations didn’t line up.

I think when we meet another person, we hope she isn’t the things we hate in this world. We hope she believes what we believe, because we believe that our beliefs are good and right. We hope she’ll be a kindred spirit.

The thing is, I don’t think we recognize kindred spirits behind the shadow of assessment.

The most beautiful, grace-filled moments of my life were the ones in which my understanding of a situation was limited to my insuficiency.

Most of the time, I wonder why Shasta is my friend. I wonder why the Johnsons treat me like a daughter, why Lauren thinks I’m wise, and why the Hilsts hug me as if I’m precious.

That might seem sad to think about… like I have low self-esteem, or something, but I don’t think it’s really sad at all. The sad thing would be if I wondered why I hang out with them. The sad thing would be knowing their flaws better than I know my own.

I think that’s what assessment does to us.

Of course we don’t want to fall into a pit full of self-assessment goo (which I probably spend too much time in).

Yet, I think it’s more common to lounge in a hot tub full of she’s not what I want her to be, he reads the wrong books, they don’t believe in … whatever.

Shasta and I were talking just now about some of the interactions we had earlier today.

And she said she felt like people were assessing her, and I felt something similar, which made me really sad. You see, I’m hungry right now for something real. I’m hungry for vulnerability and connection, but I’m never going to be vulnerable with someone who is measuring me as I speak. I’m too scared, because I know I’m not what people want me to be. Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the past year, I think I’ve learned that one the best. I can’t even count on one hand the number of people who kicked me to the curb this year because I wasn’t what they wanted me to be.

This weekend, I’ve been reminded of a lot of the cool things I’ve gotten to do in my life. I’ve traveled the world, hiked the Grand Canyon, rafted the Colorado, written two books…

but every person who’s ever truthfully assessed me has found me deeply wanting.

I haven’t lived up to their standards.

which is why I’m tired of being assessed.

Can’t we just start with the understanding that all people suck and fall short of the glory of God… but that we’re all also fearfully formed in His image, which is delightful?

Can’t we grant people mercy and grace from moment one, because we are equally as lacking as they are… and because the delightful pieces are there and precious?

Because God grants us that mercy and grace, and covers us in that which is delight-worthy.



2 thoughts on “The Danger of Assessing Another

  1. I want to give up on trying to please others; I would just like to wholeheartedly accept myself. Which is hard. Fortunately, the only one really worthy to assess us already loves us more than we can love ourselves, loves us beyond our imagining, just as we are. But you know that.

  2. I don’t think you can love anyone if you can’t suspend your “assessment”.

    In the early times you have to assess a person to decide whether they’re worth your time, your attention and efforts. (Some people can harm you.) But once you’ve made up your mind that they do, then what’s left but to enjoy the good and forget about the bad?

    It always hurts when somebody’s apparently decided you weren’t worth their time. Also something that happens to me plenty. I never really get to understand why…

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