When I was younger, my Dad always gave me the best things to think about. As a parent (now), I realize this was one of his greatest gift to me. One of the first memories I have of this, was him telling me, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Now I don’t remember what I said, or the act that I had “judged” to earn the advice from my Dad.. but I DO remember looking at the lady’s shoes and thinking, “OOOOOHHHH, she’s wearing spiky high heels.. no wonder she is crabby. If I had to walk a mile in THOSE shoes, I would be crabby too.” As I grew up, my Dad changed his advice to be more specific. He would say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” and then later in plain English, “God forgives you, in the same way you forgive others.” So, I trained myself to forgive EVERYONE.. because I am no where near being sin free.
Now it’s one thing to forgive others over the course of a day or so.. Immediate forgiveness was still sometimes elusive to me. Then one day, someone was very rude to me and my Dad. I was immediately angry, because my Dad is the nicest person you will ever meet and didn’t deserve it. My Dad? He smiled, said something extremely nice and wished them a good day. When I asked him why? He said that sometimes the meanest, grouchiest people are the ones who NEED a smile from us the most.. because it may be the only smile or nice thing they receive all day. And if we choose not to be kind? Who knows when that person will feel kindness again.
As an adult.. I realize that ALL of those advice’s are just 1 big lesson. One that took me 37 years to make “easy”.. Now, there are still days that I get frustrated or short with strangers. I spend the rest of the day praying that God would help that person forgive my negativeness, and asking God to Bless that person’s day so that my crabbiness was not contagious, passing from person to person.
But most days, when someone cuts me off on the highway? I assume they did not see me. When a Bully teases my kids? I assume they are bullied at home (and pray for them). When someone runs to get in the check out lane in front of me? I assume that they are running late. If someone puts me on hold for 15 minutes? I assume they are really busy. And when someone scowls in my direction? Yup, I picture my Dad and his gentle wisdom, put on my brightest smile and wish them a good day. Then I pray that God will find other ways to Bless that person throughout their day.
Recently, I watched my son (whom the world classifies as having special needs) smile sweetly and apologize for something he had no need to apologize for. And I see my daughter’s beautiful smile light up the world where ever she goes. And I know for sure that my Dad’s legacy, one that he learned from Our Heavenly Father, will be passed on from generation to generation.