I see it often in my social media news feeds—judgments made, people labeled and dismissed. Opinions vary far and wide on anything and everything, and people are easily disregarded if they act in a way we don’t think is right or believe something different than us. We distance ourselves—conveniently unfriending others—when it suits us.
And something about this doesn’t sit quite right with me.
Blame it on my upbringing, because my parents epitomized to me what it looked like to extend grace to others: quick to offer understanding. Always recognizing our own humanity, our tendency to err.
Even as a child who saw things as black and white, my parents would quickly disarm the snap assumptions made on my part.
That child who wasn’t always nice to you and got into trouble at school? You never know what his home life is like, my dad would say. What if he has parents who don’t show him love or aren’t there, or worse, what if he isn’t cared for or is abused?
The family members who struggled with mental health issues or addiction? You don’t know the road they’ve walked. You don’t know the pain they’ve suffered.
And the friend who got pregnant right out of high school? My mom offered to host the baby shower at our house even as she shrugged her shoulders and said, Who hasn’t ever made a mistake? We still love her and the baby.
And although my parents never used compassion as an excuse for not setting healthy boundaries with others or protecting us from harm, they continually showed us that a person’s mistakes do not discount someone’s worth.
That there is room for error in life. That there is always a second chance.
My mom has a plaque that sits plainly on her kitchen counter that sums up the whole of her life, or so she says. It reads simply, But God.
It’s their constant reminder to themselves, and everyone around them, that long ago they were very different people—people who were far from God—and who is to say that without God’s love and grace, mercy and forgiveness, their lives would have ended up any differently than those whose lives are in a vastly different place?
My mom is quick to tell you that the moment she starts to pass judgment against someone, even if it’s in her own mind, she will turn around and recall something she regrets. Something she is not proud of doing.
She walks through life completely aware of her own propensity towards error, her own need for grace.
And maybe that’s why dismissing people bothers me so much, devaluing of another simply because they think or act differently.
Lord only knows the grace I extend towards someone today may be the same grace I need extended in return when I err tomorrow.
Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s allow room for grace to have a voice–for those around us, and for ourselves.