By Teri Worten
A while ago, my nine-year-old son was running through my mom's house playing and somehow got a toothpick lodged sideways into his foot. We immediately loaded the car and anxiously headed in the direction of the hospital.
As you know, there's nothing more harrowing than seeing your child hurting. In my terror, I sped frantically across the highway toward the hospital. To my dismay, it seemed that I would continuously get trapped behind the slowest drivers on the freeway. With tears in my eyes and my son crying in the backseat, I sighed and thought to myself "if they only knew". If only the other drivers knew that my little boy was hurt and in horrible in pain then perhaps, they would move aside and let us pass. But they didn't know, so we trudged along with the normal flow of the traffic. Fortunately, we did make it to the emergency room and the doctor removed the toothpick and all was soon well again.
Days later, after I had somewhat forgotten the incident, God began to show me how we (I) often judge people based on their behavior. Those people who go through life mean, rude and unsympathetic to others, we tend to judge merely based on those ugly actions. He began to show me how we must dig a little deeper. God reminded me of my frantic search for help and what type of driver I must have appeared to be those on the interstate that night.
Rude, uncaring, rushed and unconsiderate. When in reality all I wanted to do was to get to my destination and quickly. Just as I was trying to make to my destination, some people are trying just as hard to get through life. Just as an onlooker could have mistook my wild driving that day as 'hostile' and 'wreckless', we can mistake the actions other people as 'antagonistic' and 'combative' when in reality there is an "emergency" inside and they are struggling to get through it. We can't always label their actions; because often they are wounded and inwardly crying out "if they only knew". For instance, a wounded person that seems harsh, hard and pressing could have the inner cry of "if they only knew that I was abused as a child and have a difficult time trusting new people"; or even "if they only knew that I feel ugly and outcasts". All of these cries for help could make some people act ugly or jealous toward others. Bottom line: we can't always judge at face value.
In the end, only God knows why some people act the way they do. For the most part, the "why" isn't even our concern; we just have to find a way to love them in spite of themselves (and in spite of ourselves). Without a doubt, some people are going to be difficult to love, but we have to make an effort. I believe that God, in His grace, will pick up where we leave off and continue to love them through us. Love is the very foundation of our Christian faith, without it, our convictions lose life and meaning. Therefore, we must walk in love everyday.
So the next time someone mistreats you, don't immediately jump to an ugly defensive mode. Instead listen with your spiritual ears for their "if they only knew" cry.
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