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  • Writer's pictureJill Jarrell Newsome

We Never Know...

The day Sarah and I got back into town, from her surgery, we went to a local store that does not use bags. We only had a few items and Sarah could not reach, extend or lift with her arms. A small drink was too heavy. I was still at the checkout and she asked if I would carry her drink for her. I saw the cashier shoot her a look like she couldn't believe she was making her mom carry her drink. On the way out Sarah asked if I had seen the way the lady looked at her. She judged by appearances just like I often do. John 7: 24, "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly." I thought if only she knew that Sarah really couldn't lift the drink and why, she would have changed her whole attitude. How often do we think we know what is going on with someone else? Too often I forget about Matthew 7: 1! "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."

I recently saw this on FB. "This starts my 22nd year of teaching middle school. Yesterday was quite possibly one of the most impactful days I have ever had. I tried a new activity called “The Baggage Activity”. I asked the kids what it meant to have baggage and they mostly said it was hurtful stuff you carry around on your shoulders. I asked them to write down on a piece of paper what was bothering them, what was heavy on their heart, what was hurting them, etc. No names were to be on a paper. They wadded the paper up, and threw it across the room.

They picked up a piece of paper and took turns reading out loud what their classmate wrote. After a student read a paper, I asked who wrote that, and if they cared to share. I’m here to tell you, I have never been so moved to tears as what these kids opened up and about and shared with the class.

Things like suicide, parents in prison, drugs in their family, being left by their parents, death, cancer, losing pets (one said their gerbil died cause it was fat, we giggled) and on and on.

The kids who read the papers would cry because what they were reading was tough. The person who shared (if they chose to tell us it was them) would cry sometimes too. It was an emotionally draining day, but I firmly believe my kids will judge a little less, love a little more, and forgive a little faster.

This bag hangs by my door to remind them that we all have baggage. We will leave it at the door. As they left I told them, they are not alone, they are loved, and we have each other’s back."

I think that is a wonderful thing to remember: we have no idea what someone else is going through. Most of us do not understand how desperate life can feel or how painful something is until it hits our home or our family. Jesus understands what was in our hearts and everyone else's. Luke 6: 31, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Every person we come across, even the person with road rage or the check out person with an ugly attitude, Jesus knows what they are going through. We can stop and pray for that person and ask God to be with them. I get a lot of messages from people who read my blogs who are going through all kinds of things. Let's pray that we can try to be peacemakers and grace-givers in this broken, judgmental world!


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