False Assumptions

For the past few weeks, I have dedicated a few posts to an ongoing conflict between two of my friends who I will now refer to as A and B.  I went to college with B who introduced me to A a few summers ago.  However, I had never really spent time with A alone until last September.  We met up at a local bar for what I had expected to be a night of food, conversation, and the refinement of my wing man skills, but I got a lot more than I had bargained for.

During the previous summer, some issues began to surface in A and B’s friendship.  It turned out that A really didn’t know B very well.  A would routinely ask me what B was upset about, and I would routinely attempt to stay out of the way before giving an often abbreviated account of B’s perspective.  On this night, my abbreviated account was not enough for A.

“I don’t think that’s it at all,” A replied.

“Well, I told you that B likes things to be in order.  You tend to figure things out as you go along.  There’s bound to be some conflict here and there,” I continued in hopes that I would be able to squash things as I had done before, but A had other plans.

“I need to ask you something as a friend,” A said.

“Sure,” I replied, “What is it?”

“Just about everyone that I have ever introduced B to thinks he’s gay.  Is he?” A asked.  I was stunned.  This wasn’t the conversation that I was expecting.  Things had gone from light-hearted to serious in a matter of seconds.

“To the best of my knowledge, he isn’t,” I replied.  There had been rumors here and there, but the reality is that all of my friends have had their sexuality questioned from time to time.  It’s just an unfortunate part of being a respectful Christian man.

“I think his problem with me is that I caught him in a compromising situation a few years ago,” A continued.

“What happened?” I asked.  It seemed far-fetched that all of B’s problems with A would stem from an incident that occurred so long ago.  After all, there were plenty of incidents from the prior summer that would have been grounds for such conflict including A’s aggression in his attempt at dating B’s singer friend.  Nonetheless, I was curious about his theory.

“One night, I was out studying late so I caught the shuttle back to my apartment,” A began, “It was the middle of the night and I couldn’t see very well.  I ended up getting off the shuttle at the opposite end of campus from my apartment.  As I started walking back to my apartment, I saw B’s car coming toward me.  He looked over, but he seemed like he didn’t want to stop.  Still, he agreed to drive me back.  I don’t know where he was coming from, but he was wearing some short shorts.  You know, men don’t wear shorts like that.  After he dropped me off, I sent him a text saying ‘I don’t know what you’re up to, but you need to stop.’  I think he’s upset with me because I caught him that night.”

I took a few minutes to digest the situation.  As close as B and I were, he had never shared this story with me.  Still, A was trying to base his claims about B’s sexuality on a pair of short shorts.  I wasn’t sold.  Deep down, I knew that there had to be more to the story.

“I think we need to talk to him,” A continued, “We need to know once and for all what’s going on with him.”

“If that’s how you feel about things, you can bring it up to him,” I responded, “But I don’t feel the need. I already know that B is straight and I’m pretty sure that this topic is a sore spot for him.  In fact, you’re probably much better off just letting him bring it up on his own.”

The was the overall gist of our conversation that night.  Unfortunately, my answers were not enough for A.  He started questioning some of our other friends about B.  Indeed, B’s sexuality became a pretty regular conversation topic in our small circle of friends.  A few months later, I ended up having to tell B about the conversations that had been going on about him.  As expected, he wasn’t pleased.  The resulting meltdown led to A scapegoating me and attempting to curse me out in the middle of a nightclub.  (He failed miserably because we were seated right below a speaker and the music was too loud for me to hear him.)  Since the situation had escalated so quickly, I decided against mentioning A’s story to B.  I figured things were already bad enough.

In the time since then, B and I have been pretty wary of A, but we have made a point of keeping in touch.  Last week, while we were on the phone, B randomly decided to tell me the story of a girl he had dated a few years ago.

“She played Jedi mind tricks on me and got me to come over to her apartment in the middle of the night,” he said.  He had managed to convince himself that nothing was going to happen between them, but he was wrong.  Things had progressed so quickly that it became clear that he needed to run a quick errand to make sure that he was adequately prepared.  (Yes, I’m saying exactly what it sounds like I’m saying.)

“And while I was driving like a mad man, guess who I saw,” B said.

“A,” I responded.  It looked like A’s story wouldn’t die after all.  “You know this is the story that A has been using against you all this time.”

“Really?” B replied in shock.

“Yeah,” I continued while realizing just how wrong A had been about what he had witnessed, “He said that the shorts you were wearing were too short.”

“That’s because they weren’t mine,” B replied.

“So it was like that?” I asked.

(For the record, situations like these occur pretty often.  I can’t name any of my friends who haven’t been in a situation where the maintenance of sexual purity required a clear intervention from God.  We tend to exchange notes on our various close calls.)

The rest of the conversation went into classified friend territory.  Still, B admitted that he appreciated the text he received from A later on that night.  It was enough to keep him from returning to the girl’s apartment.  (Sadly, the girl didn’t really understand the power of the Holy Spirit’s conviction that prevented B’s return and kindly replied with “It’s alright, it happens to a lot of guys.”  It’s no surprise that they stopped seeing each other soon after this incident.)

In the end, God had strategically placed A in the middle of that dark road to prevent B from fornicating.  A had done his job, but somehow managed to use the experience to spread rumors about B.  Had he just questioned B about his short shorts instead of making quick, false assumptions, a lot of confusion and conflict could have been avoided.

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

  4 comments for “False Assumptions

  1. Louis
    May 22, 2012 at 11:16 am

    I can’t help but chuckle at stories like this. I can list many instances where someone assumed one thing and the situation was quite the opposite (Most of which, now that I think a little more about it, are from church-going folk). The first thing that comes to mind is a girl that thought I was hitting on her when in fact I was purposely sending her signals that I had no intention of being…anything to her. Glad that’s over though. The reality is that people, in general, are lazy thinkers and are stuck in their small thinking. We take shortcuts instead of trying to fully understand the situation, hence misunderstandings and false assumptions. The bible calls us to examine people to see where they stand; it does not call us to give a cursory glance and make judgments. The problem, however, is how do we bring people into that revelation: that they need to see the full picture instead of a small corner in order to really understand things. The only solution I have come up with so far is to live my life that way and teach others that are willing to learn how to live that way as well.

    • May 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

      I agree with you 100%. You’re right about the importance of leading by example. That’s why I work hard to be straightforward with my friends. As a minister and magnet for misunderstandings, I can’t afford not to be straightforward. If A only had just felt comfortable enough with B to come out and ask him about his short shorts. The last 8 or so months of our lives would have been completely different. (Given that A had been carrying this story around since late ’09, saying the last 2.5-3 years of our lives would have been completely different would be more accurate.) However, he took the easy way out by choosing to think the worst and gossip about it.

      • Louis
        May 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm

        Too bad you couldn’t just say “Since this is an A – B conversation, I’ll just C my way out of it.” *cue drum beat*

        • May 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

          There were a lot of times that I wish I had done just that.

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