She loaded a styrofoam cup full of donut holes from the basket displayed at the back of the church. Eyes widened around her...a tall, svelte mom, taking so many donuts for herself? She is my friend, I'll call her K. She has a daughter who has Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. K was packing the cup full of donuts because it's her strategy to lure her 16 year old daughter to the car after church. Otherwise, she may decide not to move, she may lay down on the sidewalk, or she may even scream. So the donuts insured a smooth transition from Sunday School to the car. My friend told me, "This is why I am so slow to judge people. You just never know what is going on in their lives." People may have thought she was eating too much, hoarding the donuts, or...who really cares what they were thinking? She knows how to help her daughter best, and that's all that matters. But what she said to me is so important. How many times have I judged a situation and not really thought about the back story? She also asked, "As you've gotten older, haven't you become less likely to judge others?" I sure hope so.
This conversation reminded me of a time when Reese was less than a year and I had taken her grocery shopping with me. It was a hot summer day in Phoenix. I loaded Reese's seat into the steamy car, turned on the air, and she started to have a seizure. I parked the shopping cart beside my car, instead of walking it across the lot to the corral, in order to quickly attend to Reese. A woman stepped out of her shiny black Hummer, came right up beside me, pointed to the cart and said, "Really? Really? You can't walk your cart to the proper spot?"
She had no idea what was going on. I actually agree with her...it's troubling that people cannot take the time to corral the carts in order to avoid scratched Hummers. And at the time, I was not as assertive as I am now, so I didn't say anything. The gift of Reese has made me so much stronger, but at the time I wasn't ready to respond. I wish I would have told her why I abandoned the cart. Instead, I think I crawled into the car and cried, mad at the world for being so insensitive and feeling very isolated and alone.
My friend, K, is so wise and insightful. She's not mad at the world for judging her. She's decided to change her actions by refusing to judge other people. It's the "Be the change" principle that resonates so deeply, and I learn so much from her.
So, if I leave you with anything today, it's this. Stop looking for what's wrong with the people around you. Stop judging them. And for goodness sake, stop talking to other people about what you don't like about everyone else. It is sucking the joy out of the people around you. Instead, assume you do not know the full story and extend a donut-overflowing cup of grace. Thank you, K.