Several months ago—maybe as long as a year—I read a Facebook status update that has stuck with me.
It was one of those posts where someone is obviously working out passive-aggressive frustration online in public view. And the writer boldly declared that everyone needed to stop saying they were “tired,” because only people with children or medical disorders could truly say that.
My fingers itched to type a response. I actually started one once or twice but decided that my words wouldn’t be written or delivered in love so I needed to keep my mouth shut—or the virtual equivalent of that.
But the comment stayed with me. And so did the reminder that I’ve so often needed to call to mind when I’ve been frustrated or upset with someone’s behavior:
You don’t know what that person going through. You don’t know what it’s like to walk in his or her shoes.
It’s easy to pass judgment, to see someone’s situation from our point of view and proclaim that they’re lazy, unorganized, or don’t really know what tired (or stressed or depressed or poor or whatever) is because you’ve got the corner on the market.
We go through life making easy judgments about the people we interact with, when we have no idea about the inner workings of their lives. The stress at work she downplays. The marriage that feels like it’s falling apart. The child who is making choices that causes him to stay up at night, praying for God to help and protect that son or daughter. Grief that comes when she least expects it and threatens to drown her in the waves. Fear. Debt. Mistrust.
Instead of passing judgment when someone doesn’t behave the way you think they should, I’m proposing a new option. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Acknowledge that you don’t know the things they are going through that may be causing turmoil under a seemingly calm and perfect life. And instead of getting angry or assuming you know more than you do, commit to show them grace. Grace that they don’t deserve. Grace that is confounding to the world and overwhelming and doesn’t make sense.
Like the grace God has shown you.