Click-click-click-knock. Click-click-click-knock. Click-click-click-knock.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
Grrakka kkakkakka kkakka akk!
Once again, I fought to remain immobile as electric currents ran through coiled wire, creating loud, resonate sounds. I’m no stranger to being encapsulated in a giant, tube-shaped, fiberglass magnet. Still, hammer blows pound against my chest each time.
Yep. Following a recent EEG test to determine any existence of brain seizures, the time had come for another MRI to obtain a snapshot of my brain. Lesions caused by Multiple Sclerosis had diminished some of my abilities. Had some lesions disappeared? Had they changed in size? Are there more? Over the years, numerous tests had become familiar. What I’ve never grown accustomed to are the results.
I’ve found whenever I’m forced to stay in one spot and be still for at least an hour, certain reflection follows. I lay in the circular tube in a room as cold as ice on a northern sea and wonder how many other people are having Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests. Life goes on around me without anyone knowing my challenges. Struggles to maintain balance, to remember things, and to not fall. Like it or not, these “tests” are a somber reminder . . . I have deficits.
Deficits: Imperfections, flaws, limitations, inadequacy, loss, frailty. Deficits can be physical, medical, emotional, spiritual.
Don’t we all have them? None of us can claim exemption.
Yet, how often do we empathize with the deficits of those around us? Certain physical handicaps or ailments can be obvious, but how about also pausing to be conscious of the blows in life that inflict emotional scars? Scars affecting how each of us may appear or react to others. I admit, I fall short. I’m quick to judge a book by its’ cover, without any knowledge of the story contained in its’ pages.
A sharp ache stings my chest as I read God’s word:
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” – James 4:12
Thinking back on the events of my life brought on by poor choices, hardships, or uncontrollable circumstances, I remember suffering periods of judgment cast by others, and still, I’m ashamed of my own tendencies. I’ve even judged a capable-looking person emerging from their car in a handicapped parking space, while I too, occasionally use my life-time sticker when my legs feel like lead and walking requires effort.
“Don’t judge my path if you haven’t walked my journey.” – Pratham Rathod
By the grace of God, I don’t live in my past anymore, and I can choose—today—to hone my skills at cracking the judgment code and developing empathy for what others may be going through. How do we do that? Here are some ideas.
- Be aware. Alert yourself when you begin to pose judgment and then hit the pause button. Catch yourself before you speak ill of someone or form internal opinions without any knowledge.
- Look at your own behavior. Before you shake your head with a tsk, tsk, tsk, ask yourself: have I ever done that before?
- Avoid forming stereotypes. This only creates negativity.
- Give the benefit of doubt. Try not to judge if someone disagrees with you or believes differently than you—you have no idea what causes their behavior. We each have our own story. It’s not always about you.
- Cultivate compassion when negative mindsets begin to creep in. Nuff said.
- Look for the good in others. You can always find a little something!
Wayne Dyer once said, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
It’s my hope to develop a wise habit of keeping my often-inaccurate opinions in check, treading lightly among the lives of others.
How about you?