One day I observed a squirrel climbing all over somebody’s lunch box. It was obvious that this squirrel was looking for a free lunch. I was disappointed! I thought squirrels had more ambition. Where was the thrifty, industrious nut-carrier? As I continued to watch, I realized that this particular squirrel walked with a limp. There was a reason for its lack of industry.
Many among us limp. Oh, not with an obvious limp. The limp I’m speaking of may be far more internal than external. All of us are shaped by forces including, the family we are born into, our life experiences, along with advantages or disadvantages which are ours. One person has a voice that causes hearers to glimpse heaven, while another can barely squeak out a tune. For one person, life just seems to come together, while another struggles with basic issues of housing, job, and supporting a family. One person has a strong support system to turn to when in need, another has no one. Societies’ expectations may be something that “those who limp” will always struggle to attain.
Judging people comes easy. Judging takes no leap of the intellect, asks no compassion from us, requires no putting ourselves in another’s shoes. Anyone can judge another human being, not, knowing what burdens that person has to carry, what battles have yet to be fought, or obstacles which stand in their way. Anyone can judge, while remaining ignorant of the internal limp which keeps a person from fulfilling our expectations.
Judging comes easy. Compassion forces us to care. As I read the words of Jesus, it is clear that his primary concern was that we love God and we love each other. Over and over Jesus hammered away at that message, hoping that we could get it through our heads and into our hearts. Outward success has never been the measure that God measures us by. What matters is our love for God and how we love and care for each other.
For isn’t it true that all of us stumble at some point in our lives. Each of us has stood in the need of grace. We’ve needed a person to care, to respond to our needs. We’ve needed people who let go of judging and instead chose to care. The old African-American spiritual speaks to our human condition, “It’s me O Lord, It’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer, not my brother, nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” May you live in the world loving God and loving, especially, those whose limp may not be so obvious. May you live remembering the compassion you’ve been given, as you’ve traveled along the way.