Sunday, September 16, 2007

Judging Joey

Pin It Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg. - Unknown

I have been thinking a lot lately about people and how easy it is to judge them like books on library shelves, before ever having taken the time to “read” them. I am reminded of an experience several years ago when I was living in Missouri. My mom sent me a letter and in it she spoke about the way that we treat people, and also how we see them. Mom had been working in Colville, Washington at the time and she said:

“I was at work this week and I was looking out the window, watching people passing by on the sidewalk. I soon noticed a man who had cerebral palsy walking down the sidewalk. I watched him as he tried to make his uncooperating body cooperate as he made his way up the sidewalk. As he passed by the window, I noticed that on the back of his shirt were printed the words, “Jesus Christ” in large letters and also something else beneath this which was too small for me to read. I thought to myself just how interesting it was that this man had chosen to show his belief in the Savior in this way. It was a moment later that a thought struck me...that maybe he really was the Savior. Maybe he had made himself appear in this way to see how those around him would react. It was this thought that made me feel ashamed and I realized then that we all need to be more loving, and less judging of those who are around us.”

“We take it for granted we know the whole story - We judge a book by its cover and read what we want between selected lines.” - W. Axl Rose

I can’t even begin to recall how many times I have been judgmental of others because of the way they look on the outside. I was reminded of how dangerous this can be with a young man I’ll choose to call, “Joey.” Joey had come into my classroom a few years ago and with the long hair, baggy clothes, and the chain connecting his wallet to his pants, he had the distinct look of a honest-to-goodness punk. I remember the first day he came to my classroom and how I had no expectations from this boy other than the fact that he was going to be nothing but trouble.

Well, as it turned out, “Joey” turned out to be the exact opposite of what I had thought originally. He was a young man that cared deeply for others and who also worked very hard in school and got good grades.

There were numerous times Joey would help others and include them in the games he played at recess. I found myself ashamed that I had judged someone so quickly and had been ready to not even give them a chance. This was a boy who taught me that we should not be so quick to judge others…for, if we do, we will undoubtedly find ourselves wrong in many instances. I believe that Mother Teresa summed it up best when she said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” We should try be as loving and as accepting as we possibly can, after all, we want to be accepted and loved by those around us.

5 comments:

ahblack said...

So true!! There are plenty of people I can't stand that I don't know, though I've tried many times and failed to think of anyone that I truly know that I don't like or appreciate somehow. To go a step further, I'm sure I have never done kindness to or service for somebody and in the end felt badly toward that person. I guess this is why Jesus found it so easy to love everyone.

By the way, thanks for being such an exceptional teacher.

annette said...

Thank you for posting your mom's story. It's so very inspiring. I've noticed that you try to practice what you preach. You certainly have a wide variety of friends, and a large number too.

When I was in 7th grade, I was so sad because I didn't have a group of friends to be with. I was a loner. I took my disparity to the Lord, and the response was instead of trying to fit in, look for others who were alone like me, and there I would find my true friends. Ever since then, I have tried to only look at the heart. So, some of my friends might be somewhat rough on the outside or a bit strange (present company excepted of course), but they all have hearts of gold (and yes, THAT includes you!)

Mother Teresa's phrase could be changed to: “If you love people, you have no time to judge them.”

Now, the real struggle for me is trying not to judge those closest to me, when I know they know better. I want them to see the good in me despite my imperfections, yet it seems so hard to see the good in them, despite theirs. It's a daily battle.

Teachinfourth said...

Ahblack...

I love the line, "I'm sure I have never done kindness to or service for somebody and in the end felt badly toward that person."

I have had many students who I've helped after school that were a little bit "harder to like." It amazes me that after I work with them for a couple of weeks I have a much greater liking of them.

Annette,

I love that story of my mom's. I think about it a lot and I do try to practice it, not that I am always successful at it.

Teachinfourth said...

Sorry Annette, I pushed "post" on accident and didn't get to finish my thought...

I think you make a good point when you said that the real struggle comes when trying not to judge those you know really well...

I think we have a tendency to hold a critical eye to these individuals because we care about them so much, we want them to do their best and rise to their greatest potential...my parents wanted me to be as good as I could be and to always do what I knew was right. This should be what we all want for each other.

Lars said...

If you let people, they just may surprise you. Some of the kindest people I know appear to be unapproachable and punk like. Isn't the rule to read five random pages to see if it is worth reading? Works for people too.

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