The Other Side Of Judgment

Living in a hotel has a taught me a lot about myself. 

Example? I need a maid and an indoor pool. 
Mostly though, it is teaching me about judgment. It’s teaching me about judging a book by it’s cover. It’s teaching me that things are not always how they appear on the outside. It’s teaching me that first impressions should not determine what you think about someone.
You get the picture.
One day last week I was doing laundry here at the hotel. I was lugging baskets up and down the hall. I will admit, I was wearing sweat pants and flip flops and my hair was, well, rough. These are the things you normally do in the privacy of your own home. Schlep around laundry whilst looking like a bag woman. I, however, do not have that luxury. I decided I would not get dressed up and put on make up to do laundry. Who cares if some random stranger sees me this way in the hallway, anyway? Not me!
So I thought.
On one of my less than glamorous trips down the hall I passed a group of moms who were bringing their kids in for swimming lessons which they hold at the hotel pool. These moms were not in sweat pants and flip flops. Their hair looked quite lovely.
I felt so small. 
They looked at me with such harsh and sad judgement in their eyes.
“Look at that poor single mom lugging her laundry down the hall. Poor thing lives in a hotel with her three kids! What a tragedy. Get off food stamps and get a job, lazy. And fix your hair for crying out loud.”
This is what I imagined they were thinking. This is what their stares were saying to me.
They could be perfectly nice women, I don’t know what they were thinking. But I wanted to tell them so badly, “I have a husband! I have nice things! I don’t live here! I’m buying a house! My hair can be fixed, let me show you!”
Then on one of my trips to the laundry room that day, (yes, there were several) I met someone.
She was a single mom with two boys and she lived in the hotel. She explained that she was trying desperately to find a place to live since she left her husband. But everything was too expensive in this area for her to afford on her own. She didn’t want her kids to have to switch schools though so she was just staying here until school was over. She was doing the best she could while putting her kids first. We laughed over the things we do to save money while paying for laundry. Making our kids wear their pants three times at least. Using lots of febreeze. She was just like me.
I felt so small. 
You see, when she first walked in the room, I had thoughts in my head very similar to what I imagined those other women were thinking about me.
“Wow, how tragic, this single mom lives in this hotel. Does she have a job? What’s up with her?”
This is what I like to call a Holy Smackdown.
I judged her. Thirty seconds after having felt judged myself. I judged her. The women who I felt judged by had no idea about me, about my life, about what was going on behind the scenes. And when I saw this woman in the laundry room, I didn’t know either. Yet. I judged.
It reminded me of a blog post I read by one of my favorites, Mama’s Losing It, called But For The Grace Of God Go I. There are not many steps between the woman in the laundry room and myself. How dare I think myself better than her? But for the grace of God? I could be in her place. That could be my story.
So in closing, friends, I would encourage you to NOT judge a book by it’s cover. The next time you see a woman looking rough and appearing worn down, don’t assume the worst of her. She could be a perfectly nice blogging lady going through a hard time. She could be a very tired single mom doing her best to do right by her kids. 
She could be me. 
She could be you.

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