We don’t wear signs

A woman was driving in the traffic when she got stuck behind a very slow moving car. Just as she was getting annoyed, she saw a sign in the back window that said: Learning stick [shift], sorry for any delay.

Instantly she was more patient with the driver ahead.

It reminds me of another story I heard about a man on a train with his unruly kids, who were jumping around and causing mayhem until another passenger complained about the man's lack of parenting.

The distracted father responded: "I'm sorry, we're just coming back from their mother's funeral."

man with sign

As the woman who posted the first story in her blog noted: "We don't know what someone is going through. We don't wear signs that illustrate our personal struggles. You don't see signs taped to people's shirts that say, 'Going through a divorce,' or 'Lost a child,' or 'Feeling depressed,' or 'Diagnosed with cancer.'

"If we could read visually what those around us are going through we would definitely be nicer. But we shouldn't have to see signs and have reasons to treat strangers with kindness. We should do it anyway, whether we know what is going on or not. Whether they deserve it or not."

I think a good policy is to assume a person has good reason for doing something, rather than just jump in with judgmental criticism. As the expression goes: you can't criticise someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Or, in the words of the Bible, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others." (Philippians chapter 2, verses 3-4)

It is very difficult though to be patient when we don't understand why someone is doing / not doing something that we expect. That must be why God is so patient with us – He understands everything we are going through and all the impulses that motivate us.

May He give us eyes to see others as He does.

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