the power of being nice

Today was an interesting day. Actually, this afternoon in particular was pretty interesting. Why might you ask? Because I felt like God was leading me to do something, and I did it. This shouldn’t be something interesting and it shouldn’t be a surprise when I actually recognize what God wants me to do. But today, it was.

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Baby J and I went to the park after nap time and we were having a blast playing at the park. There was a soccer ball and bubbles and grass and beautiful weather. While we were playing soccer and blowing bubbles, there was this woman who was screaming at her three year old. And I judged her silently. She was tattooed (hypocrite much?), dressed a little more provocatively than I would dress to a park, and she was smoking and on her phone not paying any attention to her kiddo.

Once we were finished playing soccer, Baby J and I went over to the slide and playground area at our park, where he quickly made friends with this woman’s son. They were playing together and running around and laughing. She started talking to me and my initial reaction was to cringe and try to get out of talking to her. I quickly realized that not only did I have on my Young Life shirt, I also had on a Make-a-Wish hat. And she continued to talk.

As she spoke, I learned about the very small apartment where she lived, that she works 3 jobs to support her son, about the abuse she’d been through, the abuse that her baby daddy has put her son through, and her relationship with CPS. I also learned about her former drug addiction and the fact that she’s trying to give up alcohol. Holy moly. She opened up and we had a conversation. We had a real, meaningful conversation. I listened. It was one small thing, but I listened. I listened to this woman who 15 minutes prior was being judged by me. I felt awful. But, it occurred to me that she just needed someone to pay attention to her and see her the way that God sees her. I enjoyed listening to her story and when Baby J wanted to move on to the next activity, I asked her if I could pray for her and she told me that that’d be fine, that she needed it.

As I left the park, I felt as though I did the right thing. This woman needed someone to talk to, get advice from, and know that she mattered. I hope that today she felt that in spite of her circumstances. She matters to God, just like we all do. So, the next time I start to judge someone, I’ll be reminded that we are all God’s children and He loves us all, therefore, I need to treat everyone with the respect and love they deserve, just like Jesus did.

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