Every person has a story. Every relationship has a story. Some stories are rich… some are sad… some are tragic… some are sweet. But, everyone has a story.
Our world is fast-paced and busy. We move from one activity or event to another in our day with a hurried sense of urgency. As we are scurrying along, we encounter people. Some we just pass by and some we engage with on different levels. Our casual meeting or deeper engagement can go well or be totally irritating. Our mood and disposition for the day makes a huge difference. If we are in a “good mood” then things that happen might not bother us. If we are in a “not-so-good” place ourselves, then these encounters may send us into that irritated, cranky, judgmental place… that place we’ve all been.
As an educator, I see young and old daily… each with a story. It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game. That child is not doing well because they are not trying very hard or they have parents that don’t “parent.” It’s easy to cast blame and condemnation on others and away from myself.
Our school has had the privilege of spending 6 hours with a wonderful local psychologist, Kent Hoffman. His work is with kids of trauma… kids that live in disorganized lives. His work is also with those of us that work with those kids. He is opening our eyes to see that each one of these kids and their parents have a story. In fact, each one of us have a story. Our lives are a novel… continually being written.
He has taught us to look at each person we are encountering and see their story and their value. When kids from disorganized lives are acting out, we simply take a deep breath and say quietly, “of course.” Of course they are struggling today, for they… (fill in the blank). Everyone has a story and behind our actions in each moment, that story is playing out.
I need to remember this each moment throughout the day. When I’m driving… when I’m standing in the line at the grocery store… when the baby is crying in the resteraunt… when my husband comes home from work frustrated and tired…
Oh, what a judgmental world we live in. We jump to conclusions about why someone is acting the way they are. If I can point out your warts, then mine don’t look so bad. Every wart has layers and layers of story behind them. Every cranky person or failing student or “bad” parent has a story. Most of these stories are not evident on the outside and we don’t see it… thus making our judgmental jumps much easier to take.
I continually need to be reminded that behind every story is an amazing God who created each of us and has his handprint on our lives… whether or not we acknowledge it. He knows every word of our story… every tear… every hurt… every moment.
I had a thought this morning. When I’m ready to judge someone else in the moment, maybe I should dial up the “review” on that person. Maybe I should go to the One who knows the story best and wrote the review. We do it for movies and books, so why not people. Before I’m ready to sneer, roll my eyes, make a judgmental comment in my head, be angry at them, cuss them out under my breath… I need to stop, take a deep breath and ask God to give me what I need in that moment so that I can extend the grace and/or mercy needed.
Imagine what life would be like if we all lived with this idea in mind. Extending grace when we don’t know the story… for everyone does have a story. I have a story…. you have a story. People may not know what that story is, but we certainly hope they will extend the grace needed in that very moment when we need it the most.
Every person has infinite value… even in those moments when we think they don’t.