I drove a good friend to the dentist today and decided to spend the hour reading in the nearby park while she underwent minor gum surgery.
In the parking lot, I watched a young mom and two very little children climb out of a family-sized van. I heard the little girls squeal with delight as they ran to the playground. Mom locked the van, took out her phone, plunked herself on a park bench and for the next twenty minutes, didn’t take her eyes off the phone, other than to glance up to check on her kids. The girls were bouncing and sliding and running around, yearning for their mom’s attention and yelling to her, “Come and push me on the swing” and “Watch this, mommy!” but mom was glued to her device.
I felt sad.
Don’t you realize that you’re missing some beautiful moments with your daughters? Put the dumb phone down and engage with your little girls. You can’t get this time back. Priorities, lady, priorities.
Then it hit me hard.
I was judging this woman.
I had absolutely no idea who she was or what was so important that she couldn’t look up from her phone but maybe a loved one just died. Maybe she was setting up an important job interview. Maybe she was a single, overwhelmed, overworked mother who desperately needed twenty minutes of quiet-er time, without entertaining or feeling quite as responsible. Perhaps she was depressed, struggling with loneliness or still feeling the anger from last night’s argument with her husband who has been working too many hours. Maybe there were financial problems or aging parents who also demanded her time. Good chance she was exhausted.
Or maybe she has a phone addiction.
The point is I so quickly judged a person, without understanding her circumstances.
This was not kind or compassionate or empathetic.
This was foolishness.
It stopped me in my tracks and eventually sent me to my knees later in the day.
I want to love and this was not love. I have no idea what battle this woman was facing. I have not felt her pain.
I want to assume the best of people until proven wrong. I don’t want to spend any of my life looking down at others.
I desire to lift others up. Encourage. Support. Care. Come along side. Pray for. Feel with. Understand.
Mother Teresa once said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7.5