Judging Others is Like Walking Into the Wrong Bathroom

Yes, I did it. Today while shopping at Walmart I accidentally walked into the men’s public bathroom.

I could have happened to anyone…

I drink a lot of water – nuff said. We had just purchased some groceries and I took off for the ladies room. I told Dave I would meet him and Sam outside and I was rushing. I began to walk into the ladies room when I looked up into the face of a man looking back at me. Seeing a man, I did what any woman would do – I made a 180 degree turn, and walked directly through the door behind me.

I quickly headed for a stall in the back, my peripheral vision barely catching some people to my left who were washing their hands at the sink. There was a little boy about age ten, leaning against the stall ahead of me and wearing a perplexed expression.  Naturally my full attention was drawn to him. I said, “Hello there” as I swung by him and walked into the first stall.

And that’s when it hit me…

mens-bathroom-sign

“Oh my God, I’m in the men’s room!”

And yes, I said it out loud.

I heard a chuckle and attempted to exit as quickly as I entered. As a walked back out I realized those sinks that had been to my left were not sinks at all – they were urinals!

Those men were not washing their hands.

UGH!

I threw my hands up next to my face to cover my vision (and hide my face) as I squealed, “SORRY GUYS.”  My exit was followed by a bit more hearty laughter.

It was then I saw the big bucket in front of the ladies room, which was being cleaned by a MAN!  (Lesson learned – pay attention to cleaning buckets!!!!)

There was no way I was going to stand outside the bathroom and patiently wait to use it now. I wanted outta there.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “We spend an enormous amount of energy making up our minds about other people.  Not a day goes by without somebody doing or saying something that evokes in us the need to form an opinion about him or her.   We hear a lot, see a lot, and know a lot.  The feeling that we have to sort it all out in our minds and make judgments about it can be quite oppressive.

The desert fathers said that judging others is a heavy burden, while being judged by others is a light one.  Once we can let go of our need to judge others, we will experience an immense inner freedom.  Once we are free from judging, we will be also free for mercy. 

yokeLet’s remember Jesus’ words:  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged”  (Matthew 7:1).

Judging others is like walking into the wrong bathroom.

At first glance, I saw a man standing inside the doorway – my perception was that I was headed into the wrong bathroom. I thought I knew by an outward, quick, judgment, that I should flee in the other direction. I completely misjudged what I saw.

Sure that I was then correct in my assessment I turned completely around and headed into the men’s room. With confidence I walked deeply into the room and into the stall, ignoring the uneasiness that I felt. It wasn’t until I went to latch the door – a moment of stillness – that I knew. My outer judgement had been completely wrong. My perception of the situation had been completely wrong. 

It was only deep inside the situation that the TRUTH was revealed.

“Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see”  Soren Kierkegaard

To be honest, I have walked into a men’s bathroom, and almost walked into the men’s bathroom before – more than once.

But I have never walked completely into the bathroom while it was in use.  It was humbling to say the least, embarrassing, and totally awkward to be inside the inner recesses of that bathroom.

All because of a decision based upon an ever quicker judgement.

To love others we have to be willing to go far enough into their lives that we can have a reasonably clear view of what it looks like. We have to be willing to go far enough in to see a glimmer of the truth about their lives. We can’t judge the heart – only God can do that, but we can try to understand what makes their inner man tic.If you see a brother have need....Does the love of God dwell in you?What are their struggles? Do I know what they have suffered? What regrets do they live with?  What brings them joy? Do they have dreams? Or are they all gone?

Dried up with the wind.

The answers lie beyond where it is comfortable to walk. The answers lie in the inner recesses of love.

We have to learn not to judge others based upon a fleeting moment or a quick assessment – a wrong perception of who we think they are.  We are headed in the wrong direction, and it will be embarrassing for us when we stand before God and see others as God sees them.

In His image.

He has better for us.  He has perfect love. He desires we see others as He sees us – from the inside out.

“But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t be impressed by his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Sam. 16:7

Kids Drink Half the Glass, but They Refill It

In the midst of a time when our family was going through one significant problem, loss, illness, or difficulty after another, a very wise woman said to me, “I guess when you have eight children you should expect more trials.” Though at the time it wasn’t really what I wanted to hear, I knew there was truth in what this pastors wife had witnessed over the years of mothering a church, and praying through all of it. Praying-hands-with-bibleSo here I am – large family and ten grandchildren, three son-in-laws and a daughter in law later, not to mention extended family and some close friends that are like family, noticing I always have someone in my immediate circle needing prayer.

I understand why older women and men prayer more – besides (hopefully) entering into mature disciples of Jesus – the retired crowd generally has more time and larger circles of people requiring a bended knee.  If not more time, more time to choose to pray. 

Just last week, I was reminded of Martin Luthers quote,  “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”

Life is full of disappointments, misdirection’s, loss of dreams, changes – enough to cause a person to want to give up if you focus on the “have nots” instead of the “haves.” It is the glass half empty – glass half full principle.

GlassHalfFull-thumb-480xauto-3821I admit it – If someone at my table was drinking that,  I would look at that glass and think of it as half empty, and take it to the sink to refill it.

And yet…

I usually only fill my own glass halfway up. Unless it is my “required amount of drinking water” glass, I prefer most beverages in small quantities.

It really is one more thing that depends upon perspective.

Some of the “glass half empty people” like me tend to see the needs that are up ahead, instead of the just the blessings of today.  I see the person who needs a refill much more quickly than I see my own need to refill. I want to know that the future is somewhat secure and when it isn’t (which it has been far from for the last 5 years) I want to do something to make it better. I want to plan.

I want to dream again. I can’t live without dreams of a better future. It is in my makeup. Joseph was a dreamer and they came to pass. I will hope…

My glass feels half empty since the kids left home.

I should  have more time to relax – instead I have less.

I should have less worries about my children, but instead I have more. I have my children’s children now. I add them to my worry list. To my pray without ceasing list. To my burdens.

They drain the glass quickly on almost a daily basis no matter how far away they are. It’s not their fault. It’s mine.

If the glass were filled with my love, it would drain empty every time I have to say good-bye.

dont make me cryEvery time I know one of them – child or grandchild is sick, or hurting; when life thrown them a curve ball and they miss the pitch. I don’t ever want to see my kids strike out. I know how much it hurts. So the glass is frequently half empty – life drains it.

But my oh my, they sure know how to fill it back up again.

May 14 062

So when you are tempted to look at someone who has a glass half empty attitude, remember you don’t know what life events may empty it.

Besides, they may be  the person who will instinctively know just when you need a refill.