It’s really easy at my job to fall very quickly into a pattern of being critical and judgmental. I see people every day who are down and out, holding on to their very last shred of hope. Some of them are victims of circumstance; decisions made by others that have trapped them in a terrifying whirlpool of sadness, anger, depression, hopelessness and low self-esteem.
Others have brought it on themselves. Some with one bad decision, others with a series or lifetime of bad decisions and lessons never learned.
I find myself on days that I’m feeling tired or weary and relying on my own strength making snap judgements on people I interact with.
I’m ashamed to admit some of the thoughts that I allow to enter my mind.
“Ugh! Lady, take your little demon children that you can’t discipline and get out of here already. I’m over you!”
“Get your life together already! It’s embarrassing!!”
“Well, maybe if you were an honest and hard working person you wouldn’t HAVE to spend your days here in the courthouse.”
“Just stay out of the hallway. The pee testers are out there…scum.” (I work next door to drug court. They test in the bathroom we share with them.)
It’s hard to even type those words. It’s hard to admit that I, a self proclaiming follower of Christ thinks such ugly thoughts.
Not every day.
Not every time.
But too many days and times. More than is acceptable for sure.
One day it was the single mother coming to family court for mediation. She didn’t have a choice but to bring her children along. She had no family or friends to watch them. She wasn’t ghetto. She was sad and desperate for a smile and a friendly, heartfelt greeting and conversation. Her children weren’t demons…they were kids whose lives had been turned upside down by a dad that walked out, left with a sad mother who was just trying to make it through the day in one piece. They were reacting.
One day it was the lady who relapsed after 2 years of sobriety because her mom died and she defaulted to the one thing she knew would bring (temporary) relief. She’s now fighting for her life, almost 2 years sober in a last chance program, being drug tested twice a week, receiving the counseling and help she needs to be the person she longs to be. Her goal: to not be labeled as an addict, not the daughter of addicts (plural) and not the status quo for her family. A new family heritage of sobriety and giving back.
I was tired this morning. And as I was quietly starting my workday, reminding myself, “it’s a pee test day! Brace yourself!” I thought about this scripture…it was paraphrased in my mind, but I’ll share with you the whole scripture:
“Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.”
It goes on to say:
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all”
Galatians 6 (MSG)
It is not our job to judge or condemn.
It is our job to love.
And with Gods grace and strength it is possible to love others, always. Even the “impossible” ones.
We have all needed love and forgiveness and understanding and someone to reach out to us when we’ve hit rock bottom. Maybe your rock bottom wasn’t drugs or homelessness or divorce…but it was still your rock bottom and I’m betting you didn’t come out of it alone. I bet God placed someone with a lot of love and a lot of wisdom and much, much patience in your life that took you by the hand and walked with you to the other side.
My prayer is that I stop seeing only what’s on the outside and start viewing those I come in contact with as they are: a deeply loved child of God. Someone he loved enough to offer up His sons life.
I pray that I stay grounded in the good things of God, that I am one less person looking down on others. Especially when I’m tired, I pray that God will give me an extra portion of patience, mercy and love to pour out on others.
On the days when I keep my heart and eyes and ears on God and begin to reflect HIM instead of my own ugliness, I find myself no longer tired, but energized; I find myself feeling blessed by others, my patience doubling, my willingness to overlook the small stuff growing in leaps and bounds.
I don’t know everyone’s story. I don’t need to. I just have to love them and treat them well.
So keep your heart aligned with His heart, love like He loves, depend on His strength, reflect Christ in every interaction.
People expect us to judge them, look down on them, treat them like they are lesser in some way.
So be the opposite.
It could change someone’s world.