I’ve been having lessons about judging others lately and it’s pretty uncomfortable. Sometimes I feel I’m going the reverse of where I want to. I believe we should grow wiser as we age but instead, sometimes I seem to be growing crankier and suspicious.
On the other side of my apartment’s walls lives a Muslim family from the Middle East and sometimes they’re noisier than I’d like, but that’s not a significant problem. The older man, husband and father, rules with absolute authority (I hear his raised voice through the wall). If he and I cross paths when I’m walking my dog, he snaps his fingers and gestures to dismiss me, to stay away, I guess. I don’t like being told to stay away or behind him, even though that’s what I do with everyone who doesn’t want contact. I don’t like being less than any man and I don’t like that he rules his wife and daughter–as if it’s my business! His daughter and I smile and say hello—she’s a very nice young woman and I’ve spoken with his wife, who seems worn down to me, but maybe that’s only my perspective. (I don’t live with them after all or understand their native language.)
I’ve mentioned here before that when I fall into judging someone, I get an irritating bubble on my eye (the Universe’s sense of humor) which I take as a reminder of, “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?” The moment I realize what I’m doing, the bubble goes away. (Who would I be without eye-bubbles?)
I was sitting in my living room last week when a wave of realization washed over me: “He truly is doing the best he can and he is God’s son. That alone is enough to respect him, to respect the ways of his culture. It’s not your job to change or enlighten him.” I knew this with my mind but not until then did I get it with my heart. Eye bubble gone.
So, I was surprised yesterday when the eye bubble was back. “Hold on, universe!” I exclaimed. “I got the message.” Every once in a while, when the bubble flared, I’d scan my mind and think, “What the heck? I’m not judging anyone.” Then, last night I remembered the night before.
It was dark and I’d taken Roxie out for a walk. As we headed back to our apartment, I heard a man’s voice, apparently on a mobile phone. When I came around a corner, he was right there, tall, in dirty clothes, with scruffy hair and beard, looking homeless to me. Immediately, I felt scared. No one else was around. I didn’t nod or speak to him—I passed by him as fast as I could and looked over my shoulder once to make sure he wasn’t following. He knew I was scared and, I’m sure, that I judged him, but I didn’t know yet. Yesterday, during the day, we crossed paths again. I managed a hello and he, wearing the same dirty clothes, spoke back, but we were both uncomfortable. He climbed into a car and said, “That was a lot easier today.” What does that mean? I thought–as if it’s my business!
I was out with Roxie last night, looking at the stars, when it came to me again. The eye bubble was back because I was immediately suspicious of the man—I don’t know him, yet I thought the worst of him. But I have a pretty good ‘radar’ about people, I thought. “Yes, you do, but sensing something is off doesn’t give you the right to not see the person as a child of the Creator.”
Wow. The truth is always the truth, no matter what we feel or think.