“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” ~ Matthew 7:1-3 NIV
I was thinking about how we have a natural tendency to make snap judgments about people. We don’t do this because we’re bad people, we do this because we learn how to perceive people and the world through the lens of our experiences. The way we are brought up shapes our world view and all of our fears and attractions stem from what we are told is good and what we are told is bad. As we grow up and start to get out into the world a little more, we either interact with it in a fearful way or in a way that embraces the adventure of learning new things. One of the main reasons why we encounter prejudice or situations where we are treated unfairly is because people don’t take the time to think about or even consider all of the things that contribute to our personality or state of mind at the moment when we meet them. We look them over quickly and assess whether or not we feel they are a threat and then we move on. If we take the time to have a negative thought about someone, we usually aren’t doing so with any justification for our assessment. What if we could see the total picture on first glance? What if, like the characters in a video game, our strengths, weaknesses, resources, and challenges were all immediately downloaded into the minds of everyone we met. Would it make a difference if when you met me you could see all of the things I’d been through and what I might still be trying to heal from? Would your opinion of me be different than if you had no information about me at all?
Of course, it isn’t really feasible to think that we could have the kind of immediate insight into the plight of another human being when we meet them. Most people never want to share their deepest fears and inner demons with anyone; not even people with whom they are close. So, in a way, we are partially responsible for how others perceive us and ultimately how they treat us. If we are closed off and we aren’t willing to talk about our history, our challenges, our struggles, and our fears, we aren’t giving people the total picture of who we are. I’m not saying we need to dump everything on every person we meet at the moment we first meet them. But it wouldn’t hurt if we would allow ourselves to be at least vulnerable enough to relate to one another on something other than a superficial level. There’s nothing wrong with digging a little deeper instead of just assuming we know who we are dealing with when we haven’t asked the first question about where a person is coming from. We might find that our interactions tend to be just a little bit more genuine when we aren’t spending so much time trying to hide what makes us who we are. It might not be the most comfortable thing to do, but there’s something to be said for allowing ourselves to just be who we are and allowing others to do the same.
47 Days of Self-Care is a blogging project that is being published between three different blogs owned by Author & Publisher, Rebecca Benston. Over these 47 days, she hopes to share thoughts and resources for better self-care. You can view related posts at Higher Ground for Life, at the Leading the Follower blog, and on the Higher Ground Books & Media blog.