I had a moment in the grocery store a few weeks ago and it made me wonder....how often is the judgement we think we are feeling from others actually completely inside our own heads?
I do not for a minute doubt that people have had moments of truly being judged by strangers around them. I've heard the stories of whispers and comments that drip with entitlement and lack of understanding. But, how often do we let ourselves feel judged based on nothing more than a facial expression we could have misread or a silence that might have meant nothing?
Here's my story:
I had Lucy in the child seat and C in her car seat carrier down in the basket of the grocery cart. C was screaming and Lucy was escaping the straps. But we were nearly out of formula and milk, so I had to do the minimum grocery run. As I approached a checkout lane, a gentlemen with a full cart waved me ahead with a smile.
The cashier made pleasant small talk as she rang up everything but the formula and asked me if Lucy and C were my only children. I laughed and said I had 3 more in school.
Then I pulled out my WIC checks to pay for the formula. As I did so, I thought I caught sight of the gentleman behind me in line -- the one who'd let me cut in front of him. I thought I saw him freeze, just for a second. I thought I felt him think, "5 kids? and on public assistance? Get your tubes tied and get a job, lady." I resisted a powerful urge to comment on the fact that we'd adopted Lucy from the foster system, that we intended to adopt C but she was in foster care and that was why she got WIC and that was also why I was feeding her formula anyway. None of that is the business of any random stranger in the grocery store and saying it would have served nothing but my pride.
But, here's the thing. The man in line said nothing. The cashier said only that I must be a busy woman. He did nothing but put his groceries on the checkout behind mine. She simply rang up my items in a professional and efficient manner. I thought it. That was my voice in my head judging me, not theirs. It wasn't until I was in the car -- feeling judged -- that I realized I hadn't even made eye contact with either of them after I pulled out the WIC checks. I gave them no opportunity to show me a lack of judgement. I was so focused on myself, so turned inwards, that I didn't even really see them.
So, in that story, doesn't it sound like I'm the one who is jumping to judgement? I'm the one who is denying others the grace of assuming their best intentions.
Remove the log from thine own eye, indeed.