It's 8:50pm and I need to return a couple of Redbox videos by 9:00pm. I jump into my car and head to the nearest and easiest Redbox to access which is at Walmart. Walmart is not my favorite place and I pretty much only go in there to use the Redbox. This isn't to start a debate about who has lower prices -- I simply don't care for how their businesses are run and choose to not support them. End of subject.
As I entered Walmart, there was a young couple -- looked like only teenagers -- entering the store with their young baby. I glanced at them and wondered what their story was. Did they get pregnant and were forced to move out and survive on their own? Or was this simply time that the three of them could spend together since they live apart? Perhaps their little family is together at her parents' house? Or maybe they just look REALLY young? Anyways, it got me thinking about how rarely I think about other people's stories.
I have found myself often judging some of the people I see at Walmart -- the parents dragging their screaming toddlers through the store at 10/11pm. I've shaken my head and thought "how could any good parent bring their kid to the store at this time?" I haven't taken the time to consider their story. Maybe the woman with the screaming toddler is a single mom, her toddler woke up sick, and she had to take him with her to the store to get his medicine. She knows people are judging her (she gets that a lot as a single mom), but her child needs medicine and this is the only way to get it. Or maybe she works multiple jobs and the only time she can go to the store is now and she doesn't have anyone to watch her child -- it's only one night a week.
It's so easy for us to judge without considering people's stories first. And we think it's not a big deal because it's just in our head and they don't know what we are thinking. Perhaps we do it to make us feel a little bit better about all the TV our kids watched that day (hey, at least my child is in bed at a proper time). And just because it's a conversation only in our head, doesn't make it okay. God calls us to love and care for each other and to do that we need to have a heart like Jesus. The thoughts in our heads are as much a reflection of our heart condition as our actions are. And eventually, those thoughts don't stay in our head and we begin talking to people, etc.
I don't want to be a cynic and judge people. I want to love them. My six-year-old son is a great example of loving everyone. Anytime we see a homeless person, he asks me what his story is and makes sure that we stop and help him out. If we are walking in Chicago and I don't have any money on me to give, he will walk up to the homeless man on the street and give him a smile and a high five. He's just like my husband.
I pray that in this new year, we would take the time to consider someone's story and not just be quick to judge. Don't assume things about people, just love them. I pray that God will change my heart and help me to see people as he sees them and to love them -- to not walk away from those in need, but to give what I can to them. Christ sacrificed his life for me because his love for me. How can I not show love to others?