Today my words from above didn’t come from my kids but rather my Mom. My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over a decade ago and the condition has deteriorated to the point that at 62 years old, she has to walk with a walker that doubles as a seat. She has even started talking about the need to move to a wheel chair for longer days and more freedom to go places. Imagine, a wheel chair for more freedom. While chatting with my Mom a few days ago she mentioned to me that people will tell her she doesn’t need a walker. When I inquired as to who would say such a thing, she told me that complete strangers would see her and tell he she didn’t need to use a walker and she looked just fine. What gumption it would take to place such judgment on someone you don’t even know. My Mom stands straight, but to stand for long causes her such pain that it isn’t always an option. What does the woman in Home Depot know about my Mom’s physical and medical needs?
God created each and every one of us and though we do not look the same, sound the same or think the same we came from the same creator. Just as we love ourselves, we are to love our neighbor and not just the person living in the same neighborhood. Even the smelly, cranky old woman in front of you at the grocery story, yelling about your kids and how she would never tolerate that behavior, even she deserves your love. What we don’t see about her is that she was the wife of an alcoholic that would leave in a drunken stupor after yelling about her failures and not return for days at a time, leaving her to cover up his illness and be mother and father to her children. The young girl wearing provocative clothing, smacking her gum and speaking with foul language while bagging your groceries needs your love too. Perhaps what we don’t see are the years of neglect she received from a father that was never there and a mother that didn’t know how to guide her into womanhood, leaving her searching for acceptance wherever it may come, finding it in some of the wrong places. The man on the phone that snaps at you as you ask to move your appointment to another day needs your love too. What we don’t see is that the night before his fiancé ended the engagement, telling him that she had found someone else, leaving him feeling lonely and worthless. Look in the mirror, listen to your words, what would someone assume about your cover today?
It is easy to see the way someone is dressed, the way they walk, and hear the way that they talk. Knowing what is in the hearts and minds of those that we meet is much more difficult and takes much more effort. Today, when you are met by the angry older woman, the young girl with attitude, the short tempered man on the phone or the woman that looks like she doesn’t need a walker, I challenge you to smile or share a sweet word with them. Remember that all appearances and attitudes may not be as they seem and it is not our place to judge what we see, but rather love our neighbor as God loves us.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? - Matthew 7: