Even though I so often fail to be the person I think God wants me to be, I can look back and see progress. I would hope that being a Christian for 59 years would have an effect on my habits and attitudes.
For example, as a teacher I felt it ridiculous that parents would take their children out of school for a family trip. What was I thinking! Travel—even to the beach—is more broadening and educational than whatever I had planned for that week. I now understand that parental work schedules don’t always coincide with school calendars. Whew! I have quit judging on that one. (Of course I’m no longer teaching!)
And how worship is conducted. Why did I think my way was the best way? I don’t even know now what I thought was best, but I now can relax and enjoy whatever comes. I still slip up when visiting other churches when someone goes to the front for prayers and no one from the audience joins him or her, but I can get over it. I’m understanding that not every congregation is as family-oriented as Central.
I used to be a “thank you note” Nazi. Two weeks and no thanks for the birthday gift? Ugh. Two months and no thanks for the wedding gift? No more. As long as I know they received it, I’m satisfied. People are too busy (with sports and time with friends and watching television?) to have time to send something hand-written. So maybe I’m not completely over it. But I’ve evolved to the point that I’m pleasantly surprised when I get a personal note. And I don’t keep up with how long it’s been. Ever.
I do not feel critical of the homeless who are asking for money. I don’t know their circumstances. I have never been in that situation.
One more that I’ve improved on but not mastered and probably never will: my editorial eye. I cannot help but see and hear grammatical or spelling errors. They are there and I am seeing them and that’s it. But I no longer feel the need to correct those errors. That’s an improvement, isn’t it?
I’m still especially critical, however, of educated people who make egregious grammatical errors. I hear “for Angela and I” as though they are making an effort to speak correctly—and, of course, failing. But I don’t correct them. I don’t even roll my eyes as I used to do. Baby steps.
I’m still quite judgmental about parents who are rude to their children, especially in public. On the other hand, I disapprove of parents who make excuses for or ignore their children’s rude behavior. Or gross behavior. I recently heard of a mother who doesn’t correct their children for (brace yourself—this is crude) picking their noses and putting it in their mouths. She said, “We just work on the big things and let the little things go.” Really? A twelve-year-old?
I’m critical of people who make a habit of being late, though I easily offer grace when folks are occasionally late. I don’t like it when servers avoid my eye when I need something and when they don’t keep my water glass filled. I think everyone should use napkins and push their chairs under the table when they are finished eating. And I’m sure I could think of many more ways I’m judgmental. I haven’t totally given up my standards. But when I think of the grace God offers me constantly and consistently, I must work at offering that same grace to others. How have your attitudes and actions changed?