I've learned the lesson too many times to even try to count. I even teach the lesson to my students. I've sat through sermons, spent time in Bible studies and also taught lessons specifically on the dangers-- the evils-- of judging. And I'm still guilty.
Time and again... lining up at the start line at 5k's, half marathons, CrossFit competitions, I size up the competition. And thoughts march through my brain like committed but misguided troops...
She's going to give me no trouble.
I just need to stay in front of her.
I can totally beat that guy.
And each time I'm completely sure that my judgments are precise, I'm put firmly back in my place. Like yesterday at the park...
My husband and I left our comfortable couches on a beautifully sunny afternoon. Jogging a mile to our neighborhood park, doing burpees on the way, we reached the pull up bars smiling and sweating and breathing hard. I barely noticed him at first, in the shade of the palm tree, bending over a loudly colorful woven back pack-- the cloth kind that hippies carry.
He stood and called to my husband, "Look at those guns!" I distanced myself immediately-- better to let my husband handle it-- another wise guy trying to fit in with cracks about our level of fitness. Mild annoyance was soon replaced with great annoyance laced with a touch of disgust, as the guy continued to talk, slurring his words quite noticeably. I couldn't bear to meet his eyes to see the level of intoxication.
We took turns on the bars, my husband and I then the wobbling, weaving, slurring guy. I kept my distance, hiding my eye rolling by stretching and feigning interest in the park's flora and fauna.
And then the story came... Eleven years ago. A five story fall. Cracked and broken ribs. Shredded spleen. Tracheotomy. Pronounced dead. Awakening to the inability to walk. Or talk. Eleven years ago. And today, teaching yoga in the park. Equilibrium off. Balance terrible. 200 reps daily. His dog Coco. Life. And an invitation to join him for yoga class.
Oh, dear God. Forgive me. The shame I felt. Feel.
How quick I am to believe the best about myself and the worst in others. How desperately I want others to believe the best about me. The standard I use to to judge others is the standard by which I will be judged. I'm so grateful for second chances that become hundreds of second chances. I'm so grateful for grace. For forgiveness. For moments when heaven meets earth, and God appears in the form of a stumbling, slurring messenger with a neatly groomed yoga dog in a colorful hippie back pack.