You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.
Although my local super store, which starts with Wal and ends with Mart, has all kinds of lanes from which a person is theoretically supposed to make their purchases, there are usually only a handful of those lanes open with checkers. I had been standing in a long line for quite a while, pondering the empty, checker-less lanes around me.
The express lanes, with their '20 Items of Less' signs lit like beacons, were doing a fast business next to my long line. There were several checkers manning those lines and folks were able to quickly make their purchases and head outside into the bright sunshine.
Not so for my fellow piled-high cart shoppers and me. We waited, leaned against our carts, giving a smile here, a word there.
After a bit, the express lanes were empty. The shoppers with briefer carts had made their purchases and left. And the checkers were standing around, waiting, as my fellow long-liners and I looked on.
One of those checkers looked over my way and took pity on my teetering cart. "Ma'am," she said, "ma'am, head on over here~~I'll get you."
I asked, glancing to and fro, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, yes, come on. I'll take care of you."
The express lane gates parted and I quickly shoved my cart into its waiting glory. I asked her one more time if she was sure she wanted to mess with my purchases, given the volume and she said once more that she'd be happy to.
I began to place my items on her abbreviated, express lane counter.
And then it began.
'It' being commentary from new express lane shoppers beginning to make their way toward the check-out lane.
I saw a couple of them look over my cart with disdain. I saw some eye rolls.
And then one woman harrumphed, "This is supposed to be an express lane!" as she pushed her cart into an adjacent line.
I found myself embarrassed. Flustered. And making comments out loud, like, "Thank you so much for going ahead and taking me in this line! Wow! It sure is busy today, isn't it?!" Cheeks flushed,voice a tad too bright and loud.
Suddenly a manager appeared and re-piled my cart, pulling me to another lane. She checked me out herself, all the while me telling her that I had been invited to the express lane, how thoughtful it had been of the checker to help me, but that I had obeyed the rules, it was just the express lane checker had mercy on me.
"I know," the manager said. "I know. But some of the express lane shoppers can get a little upset."
Judging. Making assumptions. Thinking it necessary to remind me of the 20 item limit.
Assuming I had ignored the rules and violated the standard and had selfishly launched myself into the express lane, fellow shoppers and their near-empty carts be hanged.
We all do it. We've all been the victim of it. Someone assuming our motive, assuming the worst, reading the book by its cover, guessing the plot.
I have people in my world, and you do, too, that we see in the express lane of life, their carts piled high. It's easy to assume that they are selfish, ignore the rules, press through the crowd. Maybe some of them do.
But maybe, just maybe, some of them have a mercy on them. Some of them have a back story. Some of them have been extended a grace. And they are simply responding to that call.
While we stand behind them in line, recounting the rules and regulations.
I'm going to give it a better try. Give grace a better try. Leave my assumptions on the counter. Take the time to learn the back story. Look for the call of the Savior in their lives, the Savior who just may have invited them to the front of the line.
I'd like the mercy sandwich, please. And hold the judgement.