At first glance, “Don’t judge”

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It’s Saturday afternoon. After a whirlwind holiday season, the dust is slooowly settling, and I’m desperate for some time with Mr. Schrock.

It’s true. Nothing makes me happier than having the eaglets in the nest. After all, the four sons he’s gifted me with are vastly entertaining. No one on earth can make me laugh as loud and as long as our children. It’s like having your own traveling circus everywhere you go. (Want some peanuts?  Watch out for the clowns.)

Take, for instance, family walks. There we were, trundling along in the winter wind, the six of us together. First, one snowball flew, then another, and soon the air was filled. Then a perp slunk up close to Mother, hoping for refuge from retaliation.

“You’re like the Taliban,” said their father grimly as he marched along, “hiding among the innocent civilians.” And so they were.

After days and days of such circus-like activity, I was ready to blow town for a few hours with my *BHBA while trying to recall why we fell in love and made the pack in the first place. And that’s how we ended up in the line.


We’ve polished off our list. Grocery cart full, we’re heading to the front of the store. Peering down the main aisle, we count four or five open lanes. Each lane has a long line that crosses the main corridor and winds back and back through other departments.

We pause to ponder our choices. Since I have the Spiritual Gift That Never Fails (that being the ability to choose the shortest-looking line with the longest wait times), I am reluctant to decide. We pick a place and park. And we wait in line.

“The cashier doesn’t look like she cares.” That’s what someone nearby says. “She’s moving very slowly.” And here, the speaker pantomimes.

“Crap,” I think. “No opposable thumbs?” Behind me, a quick-thinking, hungry fellow has opened a bag of chips and is munching them right from the cart. We exchange glances of disgruntled understanding. Using one of my own opposable thumbs, I give him a thumbs-up and advise him to stay the course. And then it’s our turn.

Through the Plexiglas shield, a young woman starts our order. Her eyes above the mask are smiling. Her hair is dyed red, parted down the middle, and I lay aside my skepticism and do what I do…I start talking. About two questions in, there it comes.

“This is my second day.” That’s what she tells me, and instantly I hear the lesson. This time, it’s for me.

There’s a reason that she’s slow. It’s that she’s new here. Just like that, my impatience leaks away, and my compassion and gratitude rush in. I appreciate her and what she’s doing for us, and it’s very easy to show it. “Thank you!” we chorus to the girl with red hair, and we walk out into that winter wind.


It was a good reminder for this fiery, curly-headed girl not to assume at first glance; not to judge. That day, the cashier was doing the best that she could, and she needed some understanding and grace.

It reminded me of my own sons in the work force, that sometimes they, too, need understanding and grace. I would like folks nearby to give it. They’re my children, that’s why, and so was she. She was someone else’s child.

There are days that I’m the one needing understanding and grace. Hopefully, others will give it. There are days that you, too, will be needing the same. I hope someone will give it to you.

No condemnation here, no shame. Just a gentle invitation for a course correction. It’s the kind that will always bring life.



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