And then Reality Slapped Me in the Face
Ever have one of those moments when reality just hits you and changes your perspective in an instant? That happened to me today. Before I tell you what happened, I want to make a confession to you. I have a tendency to think mean, judgmental thoughts about other people. I pretty much always keep my opinion to myself, but the thoughts are still there. I’m not under any kind of impression that this makes me very different from a lot of people. I think that subconsciously judging others is something that just happens naturally. But it embarrasses me to admit that to you. So what does that tell me? That something needs to change.
Today I had to drop a package off at the FedEx store. It was a pretty big box, one that required two hands to carry. I also had my one year old son with me. I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get both the box and my son from the car to the store, but I would figure it out. I pulled the box out of the trunk and went to get my son out of his seat. And that is when a man probably around my age, dressed in a tank top and jeans, offered to take the box inside for me if I would watch his daughter. I gladly accepted his help. He opened up the side door of his van to where his daughter was sitting in her car seat and then picked up the package for me. His van was old, run down, not very pretty. The little girl inside had messy hair and the cutest smile. This little girl looked so happy and sweet! And her father, a total stranger, had offered me help when I really wasn’t sure how I would manage on my own.
During the thirty seconds that I was exchanging smiles with this adorable baby I had a realization. I have a very bad tendency to judge people and particularly parents, based solely on what I see of them in passing. This man was polite and offered to help when he could have just gotten into his van and driven away. It seems rare to encounter even the simplest acts of kindness these days. Every one is in a hurry, stuck in their own little world. And that man’s act of kindness pulled me out of my little world. I realized that judging him by how he was dressed, the condition of his vehicle or how disheveled his daughter was wrong and unfair.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve left the house in sweats and with my hair a mess. Or how many times my toddler has had stains on his clothes or around his mouth from the snack I let him eat just to keep him quiet while we ran errands. My husband and I are proud to own nice things, but that hasn’t always been the case. We recently bought a new car and that new car is pretty freakin’ nice. But the car we replaced was in not so nice condition for the past couple of years. And I can honestly say that I would be taken aback by someone judging me just based on what my car looks like.
We’re human beings and we live in a very… interesting society. The amount of money a person has or the quality of their belongings does not make a person who they are. I have a nice tv. And a lot of my clothes are secondhand. What does that say about me? A whole lot of nothing. So why on earth would I be such a hypocrite to judge someone else based on the clothes they are wearing when I happen to encounter them at the grocery store? I know absolutely nothing about that person. Nothing.
So it’s about time I made the conscious effort to catch those negative thoughts and put an end to them. With a little bit of mental training anyone can learn to change their way of thinking. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.