Share Your Story

Share Your Story

I Judged You Before I Knew You

When this story was submitted it was like Alex was sharing my heart. The value of others, taking the time to truly hear their stories, and noticing what Jesus is saying to us through our stories and those of others is exactly what Alex's story is all about. It is also the heartbeat of Sacred Stories. It is my hope that her story will encourage and inspire all of us to consider our initial reactions to others and to listen for the voice of God in our everyday moments. It's an honor to share this story today.

I was trying to find a parking space at Starbucks when I first saw her. She seemed young, with brightly-colored hair and green eyes. This made her cane and stooped shoulders seem out of place. At the bottom of the cane, she had a tennis ball instead of a rubber stopper, reminding me of the walkers of old men in the nursing homes I used to visit.

It took me a while to find a parking space. As I pulled my parking brake and climbed out of the car, I was surprised to see that she had just now reached the patio in front of the coffee shop. She was moving so slowly. That’s when I heard my own thoughts...

Slow down. You don’t want to interact with her.

I slowed my pace, hoping she would not see me.

She might ask you for money. She might have a disability. She might have trouble communicating. You don’t want to be caught in that position.

Even as my face flushed with embarrassment at my thoughts, I was reminded of the woman who had once asked me for money at the same Starbucks. I had later found out that she was part of a scam that had circulated around town, soliciting cash using a fake story. I always felt uncomfortable in those situations and I did not want it to happen again.

Avoid. My thoughts told me.

I looked up as I approached the door and saw that she was gone. I almost let out a sigh of relief. But then the door opened: it was her.

Her bright hair and her cane greeted me first. She was holding the door so I could grab the door handle before she got in line.

I could tell that my eyes were widening.

“I like your shirt,” she commented, looking me in the eyes. No hesitation, no stuttering.

I tried to get out a “thank you,” but I don’t know if I actually said anything. I do remember smiling, but maybe that was because of the shock.

I turned left to pick up my coffee that I had ordered online. She turned right to get in line. I didn’t see her again.

I’m sure my face was beet red, and I was embarrassed beyond belief. How could I think those things about someone I did not know? How could I assume that this kind lady had the same ulterior motives as the scam artist?

I have always heard that Christians are not supposed to judge, but are supposed to discern. Discernment is using God’s truth and wisdom to determine what and who are right. Judgement, however, is usually one of these two problems: (1) condemning someone’s sin when we also commit the same sin and do not repent of it, or (2) evaluating someone’s character without first knowing them.

In my place of fear or nervousness about who this woman could be, I assumed the worst about her. I judged her without knowing her. Today, I think about how our interaction could have been different if I had been kind and if I had taken a chance to have a conversation with her or buy her coffee.

The beautiful thing is that God did not shun me at first sight. He did not walk away from me when I made a bad first impression. In fact, it was while I still lay in my sin like the prodigal son in the pigsty that God called my name and welcomed me home. Instead of judging the bright-haired ladies in our lives, let us see them like God sees us…for who we could be.

Alex writes about marriage, money, and faith at Grace Upon Grace Today. She lives just north of Atlanta, Georgia and teaches high school English to students from around the world. You can find her enjoying mint chocolate chip ice cream, chai lattes, or dinner with her husband.

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