A number of years ago I made a snap judgment about someone, based on what I thought I knew.
But later, when I learned one important piece about her story and circumstances, my first assumption was deconstructed. And a more accurate and fair reflection formed.
As my heart swelled with compassion for her, reproach got squeezed out. And suddenly space opened wide in our relationship. Room for our friendship to deepen and flourish.
Our natural disposition is to form opinions and assumptions about someone or something. And yet, when anyone makes an unfavourable assumption about us, we can become deeply offended and defensive.
Scripture cautions us, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole travelling road-show mentality all over again, paying a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbour.” (Matthew 7:1-5, The Message)
Since this episode I have tried to do two main things to avoid judging others and to adhere to this biblical caution.
Firstly, I have tried to consistently shift my focus. Starting with rubbing the smudges off my own face. Concentrating on fixing my stuff. Taking the time to focus on facing my contributions to problems and issues. Looking at how I can personally grow and experience heart transformation.
And secondly, remaining aware that there is always more depth and breadth to a story, than what might initially appear. Taking the time to sit patiently in the space with others. Carefully listening. Asking the questions. Seeking to discover and understand and appreciate the fullness of their story.
Confident that when I view others with a kind and open and loving heart, I will unearth the beauty and strength and courage that can be inevitably be found in others and their unique journey.
For an index of all my posts in the series, please click here.
Photo Credits: Sharon Christina Rorvik, Soren Astrup Jorgens, from Unsplash