If You Only Knew

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Are you sure you know the whole story? How can we love one another and not condemn?

If You Only Knew - Are you sure you know the whole story? How can we love one another and not condemn?

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photo source: Sean MacEntee

The other day we were late meeting friends at the beach, but I knew the contents of the gas tank would not get us there. I missed my turn for the gas station and had to flip a U-ey. Then all the pumps were taken. I made a tour around the entire gas station, scanning for a spot. One was opening, a car was approaching. She didn’t see it until she’d already passed it. Before she could back up, I had started to pull into the spot.

From her perspective, I might have snaked her spot. But, if she’d been there 60 seconds sooner, she’d have known that I had already circled the entire perimeter. She didn’t know. And two seconds later another pump opened up. Good for her, too!

As fate would have it, the car at the pump ahead of me was parked catty-wompus, blocking both pumps. The driver looked at me; I smiled. I assumed she would back up so that we could both pump. She didn’t. She went inside the convenience store.

When she returned, I assumed she’d move her car, but no, she took her child from the back seat inside the store to go to the bathroom!

At this point I backed out and looked for another pump, seething just a wee bit. Shaking my head in judgement some, too. How inconsiderate!

But, I remembered something: I don’t know what her day has been. I don’t know the circumstances behind her haphazard park job. I don’t know that she’s spent the last day in the hospital praying for a loved one. I don’t know that her child is seriously ill and potty stops are super crazy affairs calling for urgency. I don’t know that she might be hanging on by a thread and the fact that she blocks one person from her gas pump is small potatoes in her economy.

I just don’t know.

I do know that we have different stories. As Deanna so eloquently stated earlier this week,

Watching another mother’s choice from afar makes it really easy to think that we know best. But watching from afar doesn’t give us the inside track to the process that she has gone through to get to that point.

We don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of the person we are tempted to judge.

If You Only Knew - Are you sure you know the whole story? How can we love one another and not condemn?

Instead we can be gracious. We can give the benefit of the doubt. We can let those small irritations or disagreements roll off our backs.

My mom used to call it “being a duck”. A duck’s feathers are somewhat waterproof. The rain doesn’t soak in and weigh them down. Let’s be ducks. Let’s not let judgement and disapproval of someone else or the way they’ve disappointed or offended weigh us down.

I love this quote from President Reagan:

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Sounds good to me!

Have a great week, friends!

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  1. This is such a great reminder. I think that we all know this truth deep down, but I also know that it is often hard to remember it in the heat of the battle. I pray and ask God to allow me to see that person with the eyes of Jesus so that I can love them with the heart of Jesus. Great post!

  2. I always think that most (not all) people are doing the best they can, from their point of view. It may not make sense to others, but it makes sense to them…and that is where you can connect with them and encourage them.

  3. Thanks for sharing a good perspective on this! Motherhood has taught me many things, but one of the big lessons has been to have grace and compassion toward other mothers. We are all dealing with a lot, and none of us needs any extra mommy-guilt or judgement heaped on us. One of my favorite quotes is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” People really can’t see the “behind the scenes” battles that we each have going on, so in our interactions one to another, let’s try to be a blessing in someone’s day, not another weight for them to carry.

  4. As I’ve become more seasoned, I’ve found I have become much more patient with people because I don’t know what their story is. I always think to myself, maybe a loved one just died. It just takes a moment of our time to be a little gracious and courteous. I love the quote from Ronald Reagan.

  5. A few months ago some friends and I met at a bread company restaurant to chat and catch up. A family of 4 came in, ordered, then each one pulled out an electronic device and stayed on them the whole time they ate. One of my friends thought it was terrible and harshly judged this family. I thought that, no, it doesn’t look like something I would do, but I don’t know their situation or how they spent their day. Maybe they don’t have internet access at home and come here to use the free wi-fi a couple of times a week. Maybe they had spent the whole day together doing great bonding activities. Unless you know the story of their life or their day, show grace and don’t judge.

  6. Thank you for the reminder that graciousness and grace bestowed are always options ~ even on less than delightful days.