I was driving down 8th Street this morning; trashbags lined both sides of the street in the front yards. It struck me that if someone was visiting here who came from a country with no organized sanitation system, they would assume that we were a very very messy town. They would have no frame of reference or context that would explain to them that these trash bags weren’t a sign of messiness but rather exactly the opposite.
All of the trash bags being in the front yard the same day doesn’t show that we’re all messy alike. It shows that we’re organized in our disposal of the refuse even though someone from outside our context sees it exactly the opposite. The only hope that the on-looker has for truly understanding the situation is that he or she would take the time to ask the right questions to understand the context. Otherwise, it just remains a mess to look at.
I know, only a man would see garbage bags laying on the side of the road and ponder something deeper about them. But I really do think it begs us to ask how we judge people and situations. We are very good at gathering an initial bit of information from a glance and then passing our judgments on people in situations. How many things that are actually blessing people have we judged as bad because we haven’t taken the time to understand the context? And the opposite can be true; how many things do we assume to be good without asking questions about the context?
I know myself that I make too many snap judgments. I’d like to have the patience and long-suffering nature to understand context before I make assumptions and before I pass judgment. I hope you’ll join me in taking the time to understand people and situations before we assume that things are a mess. The exact opposite might be true. The trash bags laying out in clear sight might actually show an organized, intentional effort in improving things instead of the first glance appearance of messiness.
Dear God, give me the patience to see context. Open my eyes and open my heart. So be it.