June 7, 2013

Don’t Read Between the Lines

I’d never been yelled at by an adult before. At least, not one I didn’t know well or wasn’t related to.  Yet here my roommate’s mother was, firing off accusations, lighting up our conversation with anger, hurt and condemnation.

And isn’t that what assumptions actually are? Little firecrackers making loud noises and large pains.



Gripping them in our hands too long sears us, burning our emotions. Yet it can be awkward to communicate what we’re thinking. “Did you really mean XYZ … or did I misunderstand?” But holding on to these hot ideas we’ve conjured up is hurtful.

We gotta let them go, recognizing what we read between the lines isn’t what that person meant. Because if we keep holding on, that thought is going to eventually explode: on us and our friend.


I know. I’ve been there. On that phone call with my roommate’s mom. She ranted, raved, hissed and booed. Knocked my religion, my morals and my character. All because she thought I’d snubbed her daughter during Spring Break.

Here’s the wild thing: we weren’t even in the same country during Spring Break. Not. In. The. Same. Country. As in, I had no contact with her daughter. None. Zero. Zilch.

Yet this mama’s emotions had been lit up, fired up, and she refused to put up her misguided assumptions. She blew up without knowing the facts. And was a big part in breaking up our living situation and friendship.


What an even small dose of cool Water would have done for our conversation. It would have cooled her heels and soothed my burns.

Before I light the next firecracker of assumption, I’m planning on dousing it with this: Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Instead of reading between the lines, I’ll read the Word and let it defuse my fuse. I’m leaving the fireworks for the 4th of July. How about you?

{A Special Thanks to my sister, Rebecca — Grace Interiors & Design — for the use of her fireworks photographs!}






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  1. Sam, thank you for your post today…filled with such wisdom that we all need to hear because we all struggle with our tongues. Thank you especially for sharing the verse from Proverbs. It is one that I cling to as a wife and mom AND as a woman in ministry. Oh, my goodness, the things that come out of the mouths of people. And when I don’t put a guard at my mouth OH MY GOODNESS what comes out of mine!! I needed this reminder today, Sam.

    Love you,


  2. Boy, I needed this. At work sometimes my boss is real snippy with me and I take it to heart and put up a wall, walk away and just stay in my little office. She said I am overly sensitive and making it hard for the whole office. She said she didn’t mean it the way it came out. She said she can feel me shutting down. There are 3 ladies in my office including me and I am old enough to be their mother. My suggestions I guess are outdated and I start to feel stupid, so I just shut up and don’t say anything. When I am asked my opinion I just say I don’t have one.

  3. Thank you for this post and the one on Proverbs 31. I struggle with negative assumptions towards myself – wondering what I’ve done wrong. With God’s help, I’m working on capturing those thoughts and emotions, but it is hard. Thank you for reminding me to be careful about assumptions that aren’t based on God’s truth or fact.

  4. Sam, I loved your devo and this post was powerful as well! Reading between the lines something we all do too much, myself included. I loved the firecracker illustration…as a Mom of 5 I’m sorry to say my kids have seen firecrackers, but not just on the 4th of July! Praying that will continue to change in the days to come!

  5. Yes, psych is in my email name because I am a school psychologist and so, many times I depend on good inference or information that is in between the lines. But it usually does not work well when the conversation is directly related to me because just as you said my insecurities begin to give the picture an altered color. The part about the carrots versus broccoli really hit home and I can envision my older sons looking at me like “mom he didn’t even mean that?????”. Thank-you for the turn around scripture to lean on instead of my own misunderstanding!

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