“Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”— John 7:24, NIV
3 yrs ago I changed work locations and was surrounded by many new faces. I began to notice a particular young woman who gave me dirty looks. There were times I noticed her walking by my cubicle, turning her head to look at me, and stabbing me with her eye daggers. What did I ever do to her? Think, think.
I’m not a rude person and I’ve been told I’m friendly. Yet, I have to think somewhere along the way, our paths must have crossed and I must have left quite the negative impression on her. I racked my brain, wondering where I may have interacted with her. I kept coming up blank.
At times like these, a mind can act like a runaway locomotive. After a few weeks, my curiosity dissolved into disdain. What’s her problem? What’s the matter with her?
The dirty looks continued.
Like 2 bumper cars recklessly colliding, one afternoon I was exiting as she was entering, forcing us into a face to face encounter. Inches away, I had my chance to ask, “What’s the matter? What have I ever done to you?” Fantasies are great aren’t they? You can fly off the handle with no consequences.
Then the better part of me grabbed a hold of my tongue, and rephrased.
“Have we ever worked together? You look so familiar.”
“No, I don’t think so. But yes, you do look familiar.”
Then we began the customary listing of programs each of us worked at any given time in our careers.
After this inevitable collision course, when I saw her again in the hall, I made it my mission to overcome my negative inner dialogue and instead extend warmth.
“How are you doing today?”
“I’m doing good, thank you, just a little tired. My daughter woke up sick last night.”
Something we can connect on! She’s a mom. From that point on, we had a common personal ground from which to relate. Something deeper than the fact that we are both engineers.
Slowly in the weeks that followed, we began to learn more about each other. In time she’d know I am a divorced single mom. One day, out of nowhere, she’d be very inquisitive about my experiences as a single mom. In time, I would learn that her husband was abusive to her.
I believe God places us at the right time and place to be a blessing to others. Before knowing who she was, my ego ran a marathon. First I thought the bad looks were because of something she perceived “I” did to her. Then my ego flipped it so I could be indignant toward her. It was all about me after all. Isn’t that what ego does? Places everything in the context of oneself— Sees oneself as the victim.
Of course none of it had anything to do with “me.” Had I known she was suffering in silence, wouldn’t I have been compassionate sooner? But how could I know? My mind was too busy racing through the countless possibilities, but the one.
My friend decided to divorce this abusive man, and today she lives at peace with her precious daughter. We have become like family to each other, celebrating life and holidays together, and always thankful for our friendship.
She refers to me as an angel who came into her life when she needed support the most. I must say it is she that is the angel. She allowed me to see that things are rarely what they seem, especially when we look through judging eyes.
I am but one judging thought away from giving and receiving a blessing.