I ran into an old friend this evening. We haven't seen each other in a very long time, and we haven't truly talked for even longer. Tonight I was able to visit with her for 15 minutes or so. It was very good.
Funny how some people always teach me. I ride around on my high horse more than I care to admit. This gentle lady, however, has taught me so much, and it shouldn't surprise me that she continues to teach me more.
During our conversation, I made a blatantly judgmental comment, sort of off-handed. Unfortunately, I do that when I'm trying to banter and be witty, only I don't realize it until hindsight. My friend didn't correct me or act shocked. She simply told me a story about her son:
Her son has spins bifida. He used to have more mobility and verbal communication than he does now. She told me how he used to wheel his chair up to the scariest, most intimidating, mean-looking person in a crowd, and say, "I think you need a hug." And, without fail, those were the people who smiled and enthusiastically accepted the offer. "It was the 'normal' people who avoided him, or ignored him, or tried to get away from him," she said.
Here I was, making uncharitable generalizations regarding the lives of people I didn't know, contrasting them to my obvious superior life choices. It was a "knee jerk" moment, and I am ashamed of it. I know my friend's son. He would never have done that. People judge him by how he looks, but he never makes that mistake.
It's because he sees a person's heart, not their appearance. I want that. I want to not be so critical, to not judge total strangers in a casual, pious way. I try, and at times I do better than others. Then, just when I think I have put that high horse out to pasture, I am given a little clarity, and see just how far I have to go.
I am grateful for eyes to see, to see things (and people!) as they really are. I get glimpses now and again. I am grateful for friends who teach me through their experiences, and who share their wisdom gently and without judgement. I want to be able to do that, too. I am grateful for this woman, and for her son. They soften the hearts of everyone they touch.
What are you blessed with today?