Requirements and Assumptions

I had a conversation recently with someone who is trying to determine what their life really ought to look like. As we discussed the details I realized they were unconsciously writing off some of their most important desires. Life will never be perfect but so often we sell ourselves short because we assume too much. I only caught this because of my background:

I spent several years in corporate America as a business analyst. That's one of those confusing titles that could mean a thousand different things depending on what company you're with and what topic you cover. For me, it meant dissecting a process (tangible, intellectual, or software-based) to identify and solve problems and then test and implement the solutions while getting buy-in from both the higher-ups and the entry-level workers. It also meant working with programmers to ensure that the software code actually met the needs of users...probably sounds boring to most people but I loved what I did. Even though I'm now a stay-at-home mom I will always be a problem solver! Anyway, something that I dealt with all the time were "requirements" - specific needs that have to be met for something to be considered successful or effective. One thing I learned from the job was how many needs people have that they aren't aware of. Worse yet, they are keenly aware but another part of their brain writes it off or stifles it.

Here's an example:
I recently bought an iPhone 7. I've never had the current model and wasn't excited about losing my headphone jack but I did like the extra storage space. Anyway, I quickly realized that there was only one place to plug in: it could be used for either the new Apple headset or a charger. That was fine until I needed to hear my favorite song with 2% battery power! So the "requirements" here are separate: 1) be able to listen to music on earbuds at any time 2) be able to charge my phone at any time ...technically neither requirement was being met because I couldn't do them simultaneously. Then someone told me there's a splitter that allows for both the earbuds and charger to be connected at the same time. Whoa! What was I missing?! I had made the assumption that because there was only one jack I could only do one thing with it. When someone made me aware of the alternative I realized I could have BOTH!! This only works when the needs are clearly identified and the solution is made known.

People miss requirements (or tie them together unnecessarily) all the time in life and it's really destructive. "I want a burger for dinner but he wants tacos...I don't want to cause conflict so I'll just go with his choice." So does he even KNOW you want a burger? If you keep going for tacos how long before you burst out in anger: "We NEVER do what I want; it's always tacos!!"...but you never told him otherwise. Or, just as bad is communicating the need (requirement) but ASSUMING that you can't have both at the same time. Thankfully there's tons of restaurants now that offer both burgers and tacos!! - But you have to KNOW about them or they do no good.

So why did I just write a bunch of crap about requirements, my iPhone, and tacos? Well, because in many ways we're tripping ourselves up and not achieving our dreams because of our own hidden requirements and wrong assumptions. Back to my intro: the person I was talking to said that they would love to live in a different part of the country - then immediately retracted the statement and emphasized being close to family. HOLD UP!! Don't remove that from your wish list! Sure family is important but what if you don't have to sacrifice one for the other? What about temporary assignments, vacations, or (gulp) what if down the road family actually moved! There's SO many possibilities when we keep our requirements separate and not tie them together! When we do that we limit other people and we limit God. The classic example is when Jesus died and his disciples fled and mourned. They didn't understand (until 3 days later) that Jesus had the solution to death and that he didn't forfeit his power and authority when he gave his life. I'm not trying to preach a sermon here but if God can do that He can literally do ANYTHING.

My own real-life example is that I walked away from marimba after college. I love to play but they're too expensive. I have no space. I'll never play professionally and I don't want to pursue an orchestral position. I don't want to teach it either...nevertheless I gave up something that I LOVED that I dedicated over a decade of my young life to. Thankfully bigger forces were at work and my musical soul has been resurrected. That has literally changed the direction of my life.

So what's the point here? I guess there's several:
1) Write down what you love. Write down the qualities you want out of life. Specifically. Forget about what's expected of you or how old/young and rich/poor you are. What are the desires of your heart? Don't lie to yourself either, it does no good.
2) DO NOT scratch things off this list just because you don't think it's possible. EVER.
3) Are you on the right path in life? If not, diligently seek solutions that don't require sacrificing your most important "requirements" - you may not get them all at once but what are the ones you're unnecessarily giving up?

Maybe most importantly: don't assume you have to do this alone!
Proverbs 24:6 - for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

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