There’s a story of a little boy who was busy misbehaving in church. Not only in church in general, but this little trouble-maker was raising a ruckus during prayer time.
His parents, after several warnings and finally fed up with his noise making, carted him out the back door by the scruff of his neck.
The little boy, knowing he was about to get a solid whoop to his backside, decided to make the most of his situation. As he headed out the door he yelled to the congregation, “Ya’ll pray for me, ya hear?!”
Tonight I need to holler, “Ya’ll pray for me, ya hear?!” It’s not because I’m in fear for my backside, but for my judgemental, immortal soul.
Oh, my friends. We have started micro soccer. This is the first time we’ve been involved in organized team sports. There have only been two sessions so far and I feel like we’ve got micro soccer coming out of our ears.
I have no idea how families do this with multiple sports or multiple children. I’ll let you know if we’re a team sport kind of family in six weeks when micro soccer season ends. Right now it’s exhausting.
But it’s not the schedule that’s got me worried for my immortal soul. It’s the internal dialogue.
I am a mean, judgmental person. I really am. There is a family of four children whose oldest is playing on Uno’s team. I don’t know if there’s a dad involved, although I assume there must be, as the youngest child is only 12 weeks.
The mom has been camped out on a blanket for our two meetings so far. Her pants do not meet her waistband, in fact there is a gap of about four inches between her waistband and shirt hem.
I inadvertently got an eyeful of her white backside and gasped in shock. I averted my eyes, quickly glancing to the gal on her left. But it got worse. The crack, the visible crack!, it widened with the second blanket woman!
I had nowhere to turn my eyes and just awkwardly stared at these women and their gluttal clefts. For way too long.
Way too long.
When I finally peeled my eyes aside I did my best to stop staring. No one needs to spend an hour stressing out about another person’s anatomy when you could be watching your child passionately kick a soccer ball down a field toward the opposing team’s goal because they don’t know how to stop and turn the ball!
My attempt at ignoring the crack women became unsuccessful when I realized the little boy poking Tres in the stomach with an umbrella belonged to one of them.
A few minutes later I pulled out our snack. Like a bee to honey, another little boy, mirror image of the umbrella attacker, showed up, practically crawled into my lap, and demanded Goldfish crackers.
I told him his mom had to give permission first, so he ran over to her and yelled, “I want that lady’s crackers! OK?” She said it was ok. He came back and shoved his grubby paw under my nose. Then he shook it and said, “Goldfish! Now!”
I can’t deny it, I was offended by the four-year-old kid. I realized the depth of my sense of outrage when I recognized that within moments I decided watching this micro soccer family over the course of the season would be like receiving backstage passes to an insured disaster. Watching the children confirmed my prejudice.
I don’t understand how thoughts can race faster than the speed of light in some situations and slow down like molasses in the dead of winter in others but I know I fit 1,000 thoughts into the moments between that little boy demanding Goldfish crackers and my words to him.
“Wait a minute!” I told him with a teasing smile. “You’re missing an important word!” He looked at me with genuine confusion. “Please,” I prompted. “You need to say, ‘May I have some Goldfish, please?’ and then I will give you as many as you’d like.”
“May I have some Goldfish, please?” he asked hesitantly. I filled both his hands with crackers. He came back by several times for refills before the end of the game.
The 1,000 thoughts that raced through my head? They started with prejudice and superiority and ended with a desire to act differently and learn to be a blessing to this family. To stop judging and hoping the disaster-potential wouldn’t rub off on my family like a case of the chicken pox and instead actively look for ways to communicate love to these kids and their butt cracked momma.
This is not my natural instinct. Which is why I need “ya’ll to pray for me, ya hear?!” Would you please pray that I’ll act better than I am and genuinely change my prejudice so I can simply look for ways to assist these people who, at first impression, seem so different from me?
I sure would appreciate it.
Have you ever had negative first impressions that turn out to be wrong? Is there any way to tell someone to pull their pants up without being offensive?