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…
“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.
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.
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.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