She was crabby. Again. She was always crabby. My heart sunk in my chest as I ordered my coffee. She made me feel like I had done something wrong every time I approached her counter. She worked at the only coffee shop in our small town and so the choice was to face her or go without coffee.
On the other hand, he was always pleasant while he rang up my groceries. But, he spoke so softly that I couldn’t hear him. I had shared with him that I was losing my hearing, but time and time again, he never spoke any louder. It was exhausting getting my groceries out the door because I had to fight to hear a word he said. Was he asking me a question? Was it appropriate to laugh? Should I just nod? Oh, why wouldn’t he speak louder when he knew I was hard of hearing?!
These are just two examples of people in my life who brought out feelings of anger and irritation in me. I consider myself to be a good judge of people and I just knew that these two were so self-centered that no one else mattered to them. As it turns out, the problem was really that I didn’t know the “rest of the story” (or that I judged them at all).
“Judge not, and you will not be judged, …” Luke 6:37
A few weeks ago, I got in line at the grocery store behind a lady who wanted her things bagged a certain way, and then she wanted to talk about each item, and then she wanted a special price for half the things she bought. She was finally rung through and my order was being rung up, but she still refused to move. I tried to squeeze past my cart to the card machine so that I wouldn’t hold up the line that had formed behind me. The lady went ballistic. She shoved my cart into my stomach and began loudly berating me for being rude. The violence of her attack shocked me and tears filled my eyes.
The same soft-spoken checker who drove me crazy made sure that I was okay and took the time to tell me that she had done the same thing to other people. And then he said something else softly that I really needed to hear: “We never know what people are suffering inside.”
To be honest, I was a little irked when he first said it. I didn’t care what this lady’s issues were. She was horrible and rude and I wanted to feel sorry for myself. But then he went on to say, “I myself suffer from MS, but most people don’t know that.” So, that was why he didn’t “speak up” so that I could hear him. MS caused him to have trouble speaking with volume.
I went to the coffee shop a few days later and the usual crabby lady was the one who took my order. When she tried to hand me back my card, I somehow ended up dropping it. I apologized (because she scares me) and told her I was trying to get used to new glasses. She said, “Oh, I know exactly how you feel, I have a disease that affects my lungs and eyesight and I have to get new glasses all the time.” Does she struggle to breathe each day? Does her eyesight make her feel off-balance? No wonder the poor lady is crabby.
I was going to list some Bible verses about being self-centered and not considering others before oneself, but really you could spend years studying this subject. Apparently, self-centeredness is a big deal in God’s eyes.
And so, I leave you with this thought: Try to find out the “rest of the story” before you write someone off. I now actually seek out the soft-spoken man’s grocery line. I may not hear everything he says, but he always makes my day a little brighter. And, knowing what crabby lady has to deal with every day, I will always have a smile for her whether she has one for me or not.