You are waiting at the Starbucks drive-through, just you and your caffeine need.
It's a long line today, but this gives you a bit of time. Time to check messages. Time to look over your to-do list. Time to be annoyed by the bumper stickers on the pickup truck in front of you. It is toting is a confederate flag, and not just one, but tons of them plastered all over the vehicle with pictures of guns that say, "Come and Take 'em," "Because You Said I Can't," and "Why Apologise When You're Right?!"
Now regardless of how you feel about the right to bear arms, the showmanship on their car annoys you to no end. Adding to the charm that the guy takes an indefinite amount of time at the window and you only see one coffee go to him through it in return. You pull up. Now ready to order your "mocha-Austrian-goat-milk-double-half-caf-half-decaf-soy-milk-cappuccino-extra-hot-with-a-dash-of-Madagascar-cinnamon-and-half-a-tablespoon-of-caramel-latte-frappe-mocha-and-keep-the-change," you rap it out like you've been there before. ;0)
You try to pay, and the barista won't let you. Why? Well, the guy in front of you took so long at the window because he was, um, pre-paying for whatever drink the car behind him (in this case you) might order.
You suddenly feel a little guilty.
"You’ll find wisdom on the lips of a person of insight, but the shortsighted needs a slap in the face."
Proverbs 10:13, MSG
The Message has a nice interpretation of that verse, right? You have been encouraged all of your life not to judge. The adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and Jesus' sermon saying "judge not lest ye be judged" were staple phrases in your history. Yet it is still easy to do it anyway and probably will accidentally happen again.
Do you know what is easy? We'll be out with our friends and look at someone (or multiple people) and giggle or roll our eyes at our friend because of appearance or accent or ... something. Sometimes it is in innocent jest out of sentiment for that person (cue the southern "bless their heart"). It may make me sound like a horrid individual, but I have certainly done it! Almost all of us have done it without realising it.
After I have found judgments creeping in, I often feel bad and have to tell myself to stop. But, dude. I should not have to TELL myself to stop judging others; I just really shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.
I have certainly been like Eli many times as in this scenario, when he saw Hannah doing something he thought very odd ...
"It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, “You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up?
Sober up, woman!”
1 Samuel 1:14, The Message
Remember what she was doing?
You know as well as I do that it would be a huge boon to peace in your life if you didn't spend any time looking at others. But whoa, is that ever hard. We can easily call out others, spot their flaws, or dole out "kind-but-necessary" advice, though...wait, let's read again this powerful post-beatitude version of Jesus' words. And then I'm going to suggest something radical.
'Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living YOUR part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.'
Matthew 7:1-3, MSG
Kind of like Eli, who was quick to judge Hannah when she was actually doing a good thing, we have no idea of the motives behind why people talk or act in the manner that they do.
It’s not MY duty to make sure all actions that cross our paths resemble righteousness! God is more concerned with hearts, and that’s where He does His most meaningful work in man. So I certainly need to check my heartbeat for Him and others. Having that kind of focus means understanding that being human is to struggle with feelings of inadequacy, and trying to feel better by finding the faults and flaws of others may work momentarily. But that is not a permanent solution.
So here is the "rad" part I promised ... can you do this with reflection and practice this self-compassion on the mirror? You also know that it is kind of important too. Quickly pinching yourself and remembering you are a human being, even when you accidentally judge can go a long way as well.
That Starbucks-scenario happened to a colleague-friend-spiritual-sister of mine. So nope, I am not spending my time writing about this to make you or anyone reading it feel guilty (only you know if you need to be! *wink*).
I merely want to share the "head's up" I have to give myself many times. And that is this: God doesn't care what you do ... what He does care about is who you are. And it is equally important to remember that who you are in turn determines what you do!
Was that a mouthful? Let this sum it up as it speaks of who you are ...
"Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are His messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, “LIGHT UP THE DARKNESS!” and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful."
2 Corinthians 4:6, The Message
I am posting this on Friday the 13th and I'm feeling lucky. This year we have two of these auspicious days, but I know it feels like 365.
I know we all pray that next year we'll only have the ONE on the calendar. So, may I give you some homework for the rest of 2020? Go ahead and listen to (or watch) That Thing You Do because hey, I know you've been humming it since you read the title. And although I purposefully went somewhere different with it, it IS a cool flick.
Or better still, go order a surprise coffee for somebody else and make them feel like it is an excellent day to be alive. But any day is, isn't it? And have a great one yourself, my friend.
A special thanks to Emily for inspiring this post by sharing a similar coffee line incident.
An extra special thanks to my dear friend, Beth, who sometimes pinches me to remind me a I'm human being.