alt: The Confessions of a Barefoot Hippie Girl
1. I'm snacking on Meres' potty training M&M's. We are out of cookies in this house, (writing is taking the priority position today) and my chocolate craving is pretty heavy. And, she chose to get off the potty train. So, I can eat her M&M's.
2. I always read a book's fly leaf or back cover, and the last few pages before I decide to read it or not. I'm a 100% believer in happy endings. If it doesn't have a good ending, why read it?
3. I make snap judgements about people. "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned..."
Whenever we cross paths with someone, we get a glimpse of their story. Whether it is someone we cross paths with in the grocery store, or someone on our running route. Whether it is someone we go to church with or even a family member.
We only see a very small part of the story that is them.
And, how quickly we judge, based on that glimpse. How quickly I judge.
Let's get back to the book idea...
Let's say, for instance, you pick up The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan. You open to page 361, read the word "misled", snap the book shut, and say, "you know, this is not my kind of book." Based on that one word. Kind of ridiculous, isn't it?
Maybe we give it a bit more perusal. We read a whole paragraph. Or a whole chapter. Maybe we read the end of the story or the fly leaf. We get a decent idea of the whole, but we haven't read the entire story. We judge whether it is our kind of book based on a paragraph, or chapter, a fly leaf or teaser.
People are like books. There is whole lot to their story that we never (get to) read.
The quick crossing of paths is like a word in a book. That mom in the grocery store who yelled at her kid. Bad parent. Snap judgement. This is like seeing a word, and only a word, in her story. We don't know the stress she is under. Maybe she has a loved one fighting cancer. Maybe her husband is having an affair. Maybe her best friend died. Maybe this was the last straw after spilled milk and peeing on the floor and coloring on the walls. Yet, I judged her on that small glimpse.
There are some people in our lives that we actually do know a bit more of their story. Maybe a paragraph-those people we regularly interact with at the gym. If we're lucky, we see a chapter- friends in small group at church. Maybe we even have the cliff notes version-someone we have known all their life.
Maybe we even got the illustrated version, complete with pictures on FB or twitter. Pictures worth 1,000 words, with captions neatly tied in. We know the person.
But, we still don't have the whole story. We only have a small glimpse.
We may see the beautiful prose and poetry, but not the heartache. We may see the nicely coiffed outside, but not the inner struggles. We may have a pretty good idea of what makes a person tick, but we can't read the whole book. We don't know how it ends. We may not know how it started.
Each of us individually don't even know our entire personal story. Not the end from the beginning or beginning to end. But God does. He knows everything that will happen to us. He knows our hearts. He knows what makes us tick. He knows us in our sinful ugliness and redeemed beauty.
What is God's reaction to us? Is it judging? Sometimes. But all the time He is motivated by love and mercy, grace and faithfulness. He is motivated by the perfect ending of our good and His glory.
Jesus told us, "judge not, that ye be not judged."
Here is a quote from Oswald Chambers that I absolutely love. I copied it out and stuck it by my kitchen window. (for all the good it does me...)
"The effect of criticism is a dividing up of the powers of the one criticized; the Holy Spirit is the only One in the true position to criticize. He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting or wounding. Jesus says, as a student, cultivate the uncritical temper. It is not done once and for all. Beware of anything that puts you in the superior person's place. There is always one more fact in every man's case about which we know nothing." (Utmost for His Highest, June 17)
Hmmm...it's that part of the story thing...
As we cross paths with people, IRL, or on social media, we need to withhold criticism. We need to refrain from judging a book by its cover. Whether in the perfection presented or the flaws, we need to extend grace. We need to truly tolerate the differences. Embrace them.
Is there someone in your life who's story you have discarded too soon? "They are just not your kind of person?" How might God be leading you to give them another perusal? What vital fact in that person's story might you be missing?