The woman behind the wheel was appropriately bundled up to her eyeballs. Her companion, not so much. No hat or scarf, and coat obviously unbutton. What was initially surprising was the companion was fanning herself to beat the band. I thought to myself, "Mama, I feel your pain!"
After spotting the sister experiencing her own brand of summer on a wintry morning, I had to check myself. The woman evidently lived in my neighborhood. She basically looked like me. It was easy to empathize. But what about those who live across the globe instead of across the street? Or maybe they live on my street, but don't look like me. Am I equally empathetic?
As much as I hate it, I tend to be disgustingly judgmental. I fight it. I pray, asking forgiveness and restraint. It's an ongoing paradox that one who struggles with positive self esteem would be so critical of others. Let some seemingly crazy driver speed by and pass me on the right side on the way to school, and every possible evil thought I can imagine comes storming into my head.
In Stephen Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, he tells a story of seeing a father on the subway. The dad was seemingly oblivious to his rambunctious kids. As if awakening from a dream, the father turned to Covey and apologized. Then he explained that they were returning from the hospital where his wife had just died. The confines of the hospital hadn't allowed the kids much opportunity for running and playing for several days.
Covey's recollection resonates with me. It reminds me that things may not always be as they seem. It also reminds me that we all carry burdens, frequently invisible ones. And, finally, it begs the question, who can judgment possibly help?
Dear Reader, do you ever struggle with being critical or lacking empathy? How do you address it? Do you ever encounter judgment or criticism from others? How do you respond?
What works for me is ask myself how much grace do I really deserve? How much have I received from God and His children? If I've received any grace, how can I possibly keep it to myself? ("God saved us and chose us to be his holy people, but not because of anything we ourselves did. God saved us and made us his people because that was what he wanted and because of his grace. . . " 2 Timothy 1:9 ERV)
This week I'll be sharing this post on Mary's blog and Holley's website.