I have to confess, I can be a terrible judger. I can jump to conclusions faster than you can spell “Pharisee.” I have this tendency to see the worst in people.
Maybe it’s that I believe that we are all broken and incapable of any good on our own. Maybe it’s that I was born in New York City and raised in New England and you can take the boy out of New York/New England but you can’t take New York/New England out of the boy. Regardless, my snap judgments are not always the most reliable and can be easily wrong and emotionally fueled.
The other day, my family came home after being gone for the week. There were some things that I was waiting for in the mail and I was expecting that it would be delivered to us on the day that we got home. My wife had taken care of holding the mail through the post office, so I didn’t know the particulars. We have had several issues with our local post office and mail service in the 7 years that we have lived here. We’ve not always had the best thoughts about them because of the service (if you can really call it that) that we have received from them.
We heard the mail truck go by, saw that our flag was down, and I went to the mailbox to retrieve the mail. The mailbox was empty. I scratched my head and uttered a few words to myself as I made my way back to the door. As I walked around for a minute or so, my wife asked me whether I had gotten the mail. I told her that it hadn’t come and she began to get fired up.
Naturally, based on her reaction, I assumed that the mail was to be delivered that day and I began to get agitated. I have gotten a lot better about extending grace with a few infractions here and there, but once we’ve had continual issues with a service, my patience starts to run thin.
As my wife and I talked it through, we both had the same thought (which happens from time to time when you’ve been married for nearly 14 years), were we sure that she had held the mail until today or had she held it until the next day instead? She checked online and, sure enough, she found out that the mail wasn’t supposed to come until the next day.
Being the impatient one that I am, I drove to the post office to get the mail and waited in line. But my whole demeanor was different. I waited patiently in line behind the half a dozen people in front of me. I tolerated the fact that there was but one attendant at the desk. I spoke calmly and respectfully when it was finally my turn.
A few years ago, I think I would have shot first and asked questions later. I would have jumped the gun, not gathered my facts, just gone on a rampage and picked up the pieces later on. To be honest, there have been times when I’ve done that in the past when I was completely embarrassed afterwards. Rightfully so, I had made a fool of myself. I hadn’t gathered all of the information necessary to make an honest and clear headed assessment of the situation.
It was a reminder to me that in EVERY situation in life, I need to take a step back, gather the facts, think clearly, and make the best assessment of the situation that I can make. When I fail to do all that, not only do I make an idiot of myself and feel stupid, but the example that I am of Christ to others is completely tainted.
There are plenty of times that I wish people would give me the benefit of the doubt. If there aren’t now, there sure were when I was younger. When people make snap judgments and don’t even give you the benefit of presenting your case, it gets frustrating.
Entering into this new year, it’s a good reminder to me to take a step back, breathe, gather the facts, and then jump into the situation. Jumping in before I know how deep the water is, how cold it is, and what’s actually in that pool, well, that could result in some circumstances that I wasn’t really expecting. As Mom always used to say, better to be safe than sorry!