March 26, 2012
Who am I to judge?
I have spent the last week fighting though totally unsuccessfully a flu. It has left me weak, tired, with little patience and a recurring fever. I tell you this because I have neglected my Blog seriously and found that I don't have anything of import to say, and I have been to weak to think, every ounce of energy I have had has gone into my boys, getting them through a day with three meals, drinks, clean diaper for Kaleb and attempting to keep the peace between them has been my primary concern. When I haven't been doing that I have been praying for a quick recovery, and using the time to watch cheesy videos on YouTube or reading. I mention this because the cheesy video watching has led to this first bout of 'thinking' in a week. Yesterday I watched a video that moved me to tears, and warmed my heart but also made me seriously start thinking about how we view people around us. The video was from Britain's We've got talent, and as you can imagine it was a little bit like watching Paul Pott's all over again.
At the start of the video two people walk onto the stage, a large young man and a young woman, Simon saw them and turned to whisper in the ear of the judge beside him 'just when we thought it couldn't get worse'... He turns to the couple on stage and begins to ask questions about what brought them to the show, why they think they can win, did they really think they could win etc. All of these questions were asked with a condescending tone that Simon has become famous for. When he'd asked all his questions he rolled his eyes a little and said 'alright then, good luck' in a tone that clearly said they would need all the help they could get. With that the lights lowered and the music to 'The Prayer' began to fill the hall. You are watching on egg shells, and then the most amazing thing happens. The guy opens his mouth and you are floored because this man, this large, rather awkward looking kid who admits he is self conscious because of his size has the voice of a master. He sings like he's an angel, no kidding! An angel! Simon's mouth drops open and he smiles the grin of beautiful surprise and wonder, the crowd who had all looked bored while this young duo took the stage are now staring in rapt attention, moving forward in their seats and almost immediately clapping and cheering this wonder on, tears begin to form in the eyes of almost everyone there, people begin to stand, the judges are crying, and as the song closes Simon himself stands, his smile bigger than ever, and slams the table saying 'WOW, WOW, WOW' and a shocked 'Oh my God'. There is not one person left sitting in that room, most eyes are wet and everyone is touched by this stunning voice. It was amazing, a video that I admit also moved me to tears and warmed my heart.
My reason for writing about this video is simple. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this, for two reasons. One, it was a brilliant performance that moved me, and Two... because of how it started and how easily it could have turned out a different way. You see, that kid walked on stage and all that anyone saw was a large, awkward kid who lacked self confidence. Everyone there was expecting him to fail, no one cared a thing about him, not one person in that room believed he was 'worthy' of being on that stage that night. Simon made no efforts to hide his disgust, no attempt to pretend to have any hope for that young man. What would have happened if he was not able to sing like an angel? He would have been laughed off the stage, driven off in humiliation, even had his voice been nominally good, it would have not have been good enough. Yet, he could sing, he could do more than sing, he was born with a talent so raw that it left you no choice but to be moved. Instead of being 'booed' off the stage or ridiculed by Simon he was given a standing ovation, cheered, and adored by the crowd. This awkward self conscious young man standing before them was no longer that, but rather an adorable, lovable, and very talented young kid with bright prospects for his future.
I have been left thinking about how quick we are to judge people, to look at some one and decide if they are worthy or not based on what the outer package looks like. I had a wake up call yesterday in that department. I was getting coffee from the Tim Horton's near our church early yesterday morning and an older homeless man was sitting near the door. I felt both pity and revulsion at the way he smelled and how he dressed. He was bent over the table and I couldn't see his face but without meaning to I came to some immediate judgements about him as I passed by his table to make my order. It was when I was leaving that I saw what he was doing, it was as I was leaving that I was humbled. The man, was bent over the table reading scriptures, focused completely on his Bible, drinking it in. I stopped in my tracks and I felt shame fill my entire body. This man, any man, regardless of his dress, his size, his status in society, his housing situation, his wealth or lack there of, any man, woman or child, is a beloved child of God. Who am I to judge them? How am I any better than this man?
'And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
This man, looking like he had just walked through hell, sitting in quiet reflection with his Lord, with my Lord, is my brother. My heart was made humble and my sin of judgement was shown clearly to me. Just as that crowd in the UK's eyes were opened that day that the young man took the stage to sing, I too was left wanting to rise in a standing ovation, I wanted to weep with emotion as I realized my error in ways. A few weeks ago we heard a sermon from Tim where he dared to say that we are no different from a serial killer in the eyes of God (I am summarizing). There were people who were shocked I am sure, but in my heart I have to say I know it's true. Sin is sin, we are all sinners in need of one God. He makes no distinctions between us, he loves us all. So who am I to pass judgement on someone?
As I finished watching the video of that young man who sang that day, I was touched by the joy that lit his face at the overwhelming response to his talent. There was no wiping the smile from his face and in my heart I believe that he will never be the same after that performance. He will walk taller, sing better, and move through his life with a greater knowledge of his purpose. It makes me wonder what would happen if we gave that kind of reaction to the people around us, to the guy sitting at the Timmie's table (regardless of what he's reading), to the teen mother who is struggling, to the child abused, to the woman betrayed, to the man with no job, to boy who's too tall, too skinny and too geeky? What if we embraced them, applauded them, looked at them with awe at the people they are, the creations they are, and the worth they hold rather than the mistakes they made, the pressures they have given in too, or the oddities that make them so wonderfully unique? What if they looked at me that way? Who would they become? Who would I become? What if we saw in each other what God sees in us?