"Getting all your homework done?" says the older man as he walks past my table at the coffee shop.
My first thought? "Does he actually think I'm in school? How ignorant of him. I have literally been out of school for 5 years."
In reality, he was either making a joke, being friendly, or simply trying to communicate to someone sitting on their own. But instead my guard came up faster than I could blink.
My guard is up. Contantly. Instead of being open to hearing what someone else has to say I have been closing myself off more and more. Why? Because of being hurt in the past? Because of fear of unknown? Because of uncertainty of the motivation behind others?
But most of all --- because of judgement. My judgemental mind overtakes me at times that I do not even realize. This has put an extremely large wall up between myself and others. It has stopped me from having many blessed conversations and from gaining, what could have been, beautiful friendships. Above all, this has brought me to become more focused on myself, and my own selfish desires, which in turn has stopped me from truly living a full life.
Life is so much about community -- leaning on each other, gaining from each other, supporting each other...LOVING each other. I truly believe this is God's desire for us here on earth. He desires for these walls to be completely broken down and replaced with hearts of love.
I want to change - I want my judgemental heart to become open, loving, and full of care for others. This is what I desire. Yet, I constantly feel these thoughts of judgement and negativity running through my mind.
What brings such judgement and negativity into our minds in the first place? Here are 3 aspects that I believe hold a strong role.
1. People. Ironically, I think it has a lot to do with the people we are surrounding ourselves with. Are we surrounding ourselves with people that are bringing positivity into our lives, that are lifting us up, that are reminding us of such love? It is easy to drag eachother down and often takes effort to lift eachother up - find people to surround yourself with that are willing to take that effort in your life.
2. Happiness. Are we happy in our every day living, or are we bitter for one reason or another? Are we allowing this bitterness to take over our interactions with others?
3. Focus on Hurt. Have we been hurt badly in the past? Are we being hurt currently? Are we allowing THIS to affect all of our interactions and relationships? Be reminded that hurt will come, but forgiveness and grace is overcompassing of this. Along with this - it is important that we do not categorize one or more hurts to every possible relationship that we may gain.
We become closed off and guarded humans because of many different reasons, many different experiences and troubles. Working on breaking this down takes hard work and much self awareness.
Let us love with no walls --- let us love with no judgement --- let us love with no fear. For this is what Jesus did and this is what He desires of us.