How do you read people’s minds? I have not mastered this spiritual gift. I would say I am pretty good at picking up when someone is feeling angry or annoyed. I can tell if one is sad by the tears, but I cannot tell what someone wants me to do or not do in any given situation.
I encounter this situation every now and then. Someone calls angrily about a missing announcement or demands an explanation why or why not something happened. I then find myself desperately looking through every email, replaying phone call conversations in my head and meetings at the back of the church on Sunday. How did I miss this vital information? How did I miss this?
My impulse is to immediately defend myself. I want to confront the individual with the proof of my innocence of this offense. “I didn’t know,” is what I want to shout. I want to logically take them through the steps of my decisions or actions or inaction. At the end of the day, I wish that I had not hurt them even if I do not know how or what I did. I wish I could have read their mind, but I cannot.
I wish I could read people’s minds, but I cannot. I can love you. I can listen to you. I can try to pay attention to the details that surround you, and try to pick up on what you might like or dislike. Still, I cannot know. I cannot know that the reason something is more or less important to you, unless you tell me, with words.
I guess that sometimes words can be a scary thing. What if you tell me something I do not want to hear? What if what you tell me makes me not care about you anymore? What if what you tell me gets you in trouble? What if I cannot do what you tell me you would like me to do for you?
We can have so many “what ifs” and doubts about ourselves and our needs. Are our needs unreasonable? Are we unworthy of our needs? To what are we entitled? We cannot know these answers unless we ask, unless we tell people what we need.
Maybe we do not even realize what we need, but we have to keep talking and trusting that if we keep talking, speaking, that someone is listening who indeed will understand us and love us and we can trust. Ask, seek, knock and find. Perhaps we will even find the one who can read our minds.