[marius – wrong assumptions]
Socrates said “I know that I know nothing.” Marius Pontmercy would not agree with the philosopher, yet this saying perfectly describes him.
This young man thought he knew everything. He had his opinion on every little thing and he thought he had it all right. As it turned out, he knew nothing. The sad thing was that his opinions about the people who mattered in his life were based on these wrong assumptions.
He was disappointed with his father, Colonel Pontmercy, thinking that he has abandoned Marius and never wanted to contact him. Only after his father’s death, he found out that his father actually loved Marius very much yet was forbidden to see his son. Marius’ grandfather warned Colonel that if he tries to talk to Marius, the latter would be disinherited.
Later in the book, after Marius and Cosette got married, her “Papa” Jean Valjean shared with Marius that he was a convict in the past. Starting to assume terrible things, Marius decided that it would be better for Cosette to be distanced from Jean Valjean. That decision hurt Valjean for he loved Cosette with all his heart but he did not say a word of complaint, choosing instead to be grateful for the time he could watch his little girl grow and mature. Thankfully, Marius’ wrong assumptions were corrected just a couple of hours before Jean Valjean’s death and the relationship was resurrected even if for just a little while.
Until you know the truth, never assume. In fact, simply never assume.
Saul was that kind of person once, too. He thought that since he was a learned man whose teacher was Gamaliel himself, he knew it all. He knew the Law (the right) and he knew about the Way (the “wrong,” or so he thought). So based on what he thought was right, Saul decided to make sure everyone knew what was right as well.
I am a good Jew, born in Tarsus in the province of Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under the exacting eye of Rabbi Gamaliel, thoroughly instructed in our religious traditions. And I’ve always been passionately on God’s side, just as you are right now.
I went after anyone connected with this ‘Way,’ went at them hammer and tongs, ready to kill for God. I rounded up men and women right and left and had them thrown in prison. You can ask the Chief Priest or anyone in the High Council to verify this; they all knew me well. Then I went off to our brothers in Damascus, armed with official documents authorizing me to hunt down the followers of Jesus there, arrest them, and bring them back to Jerusalem for sentencing.
As I arrived on the outskirts of Damascus about noon, a blinding light blazed out of the skies and I fell to the ground, dazed. I heard a voice: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you out to get me?’
‘Who are you, Master?’ I asked.
He said, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the One you’re hunting down.’
Paul addressing a crowd of Jews, Acts 22, MSG
Saul was wrong in his assumptions. He thought he got it, yet he was as far from the truth as possible – in fact, he was going directly against the Truth. Yet his best intentions turned out to be quite deadly for numerous followers of Christ and hurtful for an even bigger number of Christians. Thankfully, he got a metaphorical 2×4 to the head (which made him temporarily blind) and to the heart (which left him forever changed) that made him switch sides and start proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ to all who would listen.
Wrong assumptions hurt the relationships and if not gotten rid of in time, can kill them. Each one of us can tell a story of how we assumed something only to find out that the reality was exactly the opposite.
So the challenge (to you and to myself): before we let relationships die, let us reassess our assumptions. As someone wise said once, “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”