“Judge not lest ye be judged.”

Whether you attend church or not, that’s a scripture you’ve likely heard. It’s one of those used in common vernacular like “Do unto others”.

But while common, this scripture is often one of the hardest to adhere to and it’s a daily challenge to some.  I’ve done it and you’ve likely done it at one point or another in your life.

I remember one time when my son and I went to Walgreens to pick up a prescription and noticed a laundry cart parked inside the front door, stuffed with plastic grocery bags, stuffed with stuff.

The weather outside was frigid and wet. It was the kind of cold that chills you to your spine and makes you sure that you’re going to have a cold the next day…that Rochester, NY kind of weather.

We walked to the pharmacy to get our medicine and on the way out, noticed a woman dressed in tattered clothes and knit gloves with no fingertips, staring into the food coolers.   The bottoms of her pants were torn and wet almost to the knees, as if she’d been out walking in the cold for a long time. The longing in her eyes as she stared in the cooler showed that she was likely very hungry.  We figured the cart at the door belonged to her, remembered how cold it was outside, and we felt bad.

As we walked toward the doors to leave the store, I whispered “Should we help her,” and my son said “Yes.”

I knew I had a twenty dollar bill in my purse and nothing smaller.  I wanted to help the woman but, did not want to give her twenty dollars’ worth of help.  But remembering the cold, we turned around to find her and hand her the twenty.  When we found her, we noticed that she was not staring into a food cooler with desire, but had moved to a beer cooler, instead.

I immediately turned on my heels and headed back for the door saying “We almost gave that woman twenty bucks to fill her cart with beer!” My son looked up at me and said “How do you know she was going to buy beer with it, Mom?”

His innocent question made me realize that I didn’t know that for sure.  I didn’t know her or her circumstances and it wasn’t my place to judge her.

I turned once again, went back to the woman and said “Excuse me. We’d like you to have this,” and handed her the money.  The woman replied “God bless you,” and gave us a huge smile.

We left Walgreens feeling way happier than we had entered.   And though we’ll never know what she used the money for, we hope that she used it for something to keep her warm.  After all, it was her decision to make, not our decision to judge and my son helped me remember that.

Suffice it to say, you never know what another person is going through, so be kinder than necessary.  That’s another old adage, worth repeating today.

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