It’s easy when you are going about everyday life to see other people and the way they respond or react to events, to make snap judgements. Sometimes it is those immediately around us, or world leaders in the news, or celebrities on TV. Whether we mean to or not, we form an opinion of these people that we don’t budge from, whether favourable or not. We can speak critically and harshly of these people simply because of one poor decision or unwise word.
As a fan of Jane Austen this makes me think of Pride and Prejudice where the whole love story is based on snap judgements. Mr Darcy makes a critical comment about Lizzie and his words form a very negative long-lasting opinion of him in her mind. It’s a judgement that for most of the story blinds her to his true character and causes her to speak very harshly and unkindly about him.
I recall a friend relating a story they had witnessed one morning. They had seen an older women being treated roughly by her son and they were upset for her. What struck me though was how fixated they got on this man being evil. Of course, no one should be rough or unkind to anyone, let alone toward a vulnerable person. However one action doesn’t define the whole person.
This story got me thinking. What was the full picture behind this treatment? Was it as simple as a cruel man being abusive , or was this a man who was exhausted and overwhelmed at looking after an elderly parent. Maybe he was just thoughtless and unkind, or maybe he had reached the end of himself. My friend chose to see a cruel man and his elderly victim. We have no idea if she had been a cruel mother. What I am saying is that we have to be very careful not to make snap judgements but be willing to look deeper, to listen and to be understanding.
The other day I was walking home from school with my son and I saw a parent and their child. The child was skipping and having fun but was being yelled at and grabbed by her parent. My first reactions were the unkindness and the injustice being meted out by the parent. This person was definitely a bad parent. Then I caught myself: I have no idea what was going on in their lives or why they were reacting like this. On a stressful day with my son someone watching me could easily make the same snap judgement as I get to the end of my tether. And at that point, when I am in the midst of stress and upset, I don’t need or what judgement and criticism, I need kindness, grace and understanding.
So when I saw this child being treated in an unkind way I had a choice. I could either be upset about it, CONDEMN the parent or I could pray. So I prayed that the child would be loved, encouraged and looked after and have much joy in her life, I prayed that any worries the family might have would be taken away, that her parents would have strength to deal with difficult behaviour and grace for their child, and that God would provide for all their needs. I prayed for God’s will in their lives.
Sometimes we are called to act or intervene and other times we can’t, but that doesn’t mean we have to do nothing. We can do something more powerful by asking God to intervene in tandem with a willingness to change our attitude and to learn to see people and whatever situations they may be in through eyes of love and grace.
When we find ourselves being critical and judgemental, let’s challenge ourselves to stop, think again, review and change our attitude and see through a different perspective, a godly perspective.
Have a blessed week.