Roughly 9 years ago I had a profound encounter with God, this experience changed my life. It was a simple aha moment, but this insight granted me a much deeper perspective and set my life into a different trajectory.
It happened as I was driving to an early morning meeting. There I was with my coffee in hand as I pulled up to a stop light. I sat at the red light and looked to my left and noticed I was stopped next to a school bus. My eyes scanned down the windows of what I would guess was middle schoolers, and I saw a boy looking very depressed. He was staring out the window at the street with a sense of hollowness and a mind far escaped from the actual moment.
In a split second it was as if time froze over me. This freeze frame into eternity came with a rush of thoughts and insights that I hadn't thought before. It was like a store house of wisdom was downloaded into my psyche. My spiritual vision shifted from being caught in the moment, to behind the scenes access into a much bigger and more merciful perspective. It was grace.
This snap shot into the infinite expanse of time happened in an instant, but was strangely long and drawn out. Simultaneously I was flooded with immense compassion for this dejected boy. I heard thoughts rush through my mind, “Maybe his parents are getting a divorce and he is heart broken. Maybe his dad can’t stop drinking and this boy has seen and experienced things that no 10 year old should see or experience. Maybe his sister is very sick. Maybe he hasn't eaten a good meal in a few days.” Maybe, fill in the blank.
My eyes were opened to the fact that my preconceived notions were compartmentalized with judgements. And these judgements had me thinking I saw the whole puzzle of people's lives, when truthfully I only saw a few of the pieces.
How much can you really know about a person at first sight?
Up until that point I had spent my life judging people by what I saw with my initial glance. That moment when my eyes locked on that little boy my thinking was interrupted with a loud internal statement of, “STOP IT! You have no idea what that person has been through, or is going through.”
There are few moments in my life that changed me in a blink of an eye, this was one of them. This spiritual encounter with Love changed me. A compassion for people began to spill out of me like a hose left running. A graceful infusion activated a new level of empathy in me, I was new.
I had never taken a class in school on how to be non judgmental. Maybe I had heard about unconditional love a time or two, but who really teaches kids by example how to see into the heart of a person instead of the appearance of a person?
It is unfortunate that our children are not taught empathy in school. I have a value for education, but I have a much bigger value for learning. I admire teachers and I’m very grateful for schools and those that teach our children. But the biggest knock against education is that institutions are teaching people what to think, not how to think.
How confusing is it for a child when they hear about love and acceptance, but the definition of love they see is largely rooted in an agenda? That is manipulation, not love.
There are classes that teach our future generation how to debate with each other, but where are the classes that teach our future generation to sit down and listen and understand each other?
Imagine the benefits of a class that teaches kids not to judge each other? Can you fathom the profound ripple effects that would occur if we diligently taught our kids to love and understand each other? Of course many parents do this, and I'm sure lots of institutions out there are engaging with this. But how much of this is being taught and modeled to our impressionable kids within our schools?
It seems the political agenda has its finger prints all over telling our kids what they should think, but where is the common sense agenda of teaching kids to have relational skills and healthy communication skills? How about teaching kids how to still be friends with someone even if they disagree with them.
After the encounter I had along side that school bus, my view towards people was transformed, and this upgrade in my vision towards the world fueled action steps. I began spending time with homeless people. This was clearly grace doing something in me I could not do, hanging out with homeless people was something I had never done. I would just listen to them and pray with them and that's when my real education began.
I found out that lots of homeless people had normal and successful lives at one point. Many were educated or used to run a business and have family's. A good amount of the homeless community also battles addiction and some were born and raised in homes where addiction was the theme. I was overwhelmed with joy as I watched some of the friends I made in the homeless community get their life back in order.
Sometimes a look in the mirror can cause unnecessary finger pointing to cease. Don't we all have some issues that have layers to them? If someone were to simply see the problem at your surface and cast blame would you allow them access to your heart where the root of the problem truly resides?
When it comes to the Life Coaching and Recovery Coaching I now do, this simple but powerful perspective has paid massive dividends. If my approach to coaching someone is riddled with judgement and blame, I blind myself from the needed viewpoint of understanding them and walking with them out of the mental confusion that has backed them into a corner.
I have had many people come to me for Coaching that at first glance everyone would think their life was great. They may have money, a good job, notoriety, and a family, but underneath it all a tension swelters deep in their heart and they can't shake it. I have seen these same people face the torment and conquer it.
The culture of our heart carves out the lens through which we see people. How do you see people at first glance? Do you see the heart, or the facade?
When I understood that I couldn't truly understand a person until I got to know who they are and where they have been, helping people change became easy. Kindness and understanding will grant you access to the culture of someone's heart. And when someone trusts you enough to grant you access to their heart helping them step into freedom is simple.
To be a voice of hope and healing in this present world our wisdom must be void of judgement. Our wisdom must be rooted in trying to understand the heart of the matter before throwing opinions and ideology at the person.
All day long we pass by people that need help. It may be more obvious when we see a sick or homeless person. But I've talked with countless people that have more money then they know what to do with and their money has opened up a lot of freedom for them, but inside their heart they are in a spiritual prison. The key to helping them unlock those chains is found in empathy and kindness.
"When you wash a persons feet you understand why they walk the way they do," -Bill Johnson
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