The young boy in my music class was on my last nerve. No matter what the rest of the students did, he just sat there—staring into space.
Enough was enough. During a group movement activity, when everyone was supposed to stand but he didn’t, I pounced.
“On your feet, young man!,” I yelped with obvious annoyance, “You need to participate in class like everyone else.”
I admonished him in even stronger terms: threatening to take his recess, call his mom and send him back to the previous grade (not really) 😊 unless he did what I said.
Again, no response.
That’s it. “You’re OUT of here!” I said, motioning like a baseball umpire ejecting an unruly player from the game. An assistant principal came and took the student, but I continued to fume for the rest of the class period.
During my lunch break I called his mom to tell her what happened. By this time, I’d cooled off, but was itching to provide a play-by-play of her son’s behavior.
However, three sentences in, when I finally came up for air, she said something that changed everything:
“My son is autistic.”
Needless to say, I immediately went from slightly agitated to absolutely ashamed. Her son (MY student) was on sensory overload from all the noise and movement in MY classroom, and I’d given him an extremely hard time for something HE couldn’t help.
After apologetically assuring the mom I’d do a better job with her son in the future, I knew what I had to do. I hung up the phone and walked straight to the boy’s classroom and apologized to him.
“Your mom told me that loud noises and lots of moving are sometimes too much for you. I’m sorry I was so hard on you. I didn’t know.”
I’ll never forget what he said:
“You didn’t know?”
There’s often at least one fact (on either side of any misunderstanding) that could change everything—IF it were known.
But we often DON’T know, so we throw that person out of our life.
Perhaps this is because of the tendency to *judge others by their actions, but ourselves by our intentions.
*My blogger buddy Chris Hendrix actually said this on his site—devotionsbychris.com. I liked it so much I reused it. 😇
It’s best to leave the final judgment to God, as Paul reminded the church at Corinth.
My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore, judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive his praise from God.1 Corinthians 4:4-6
Question: is there someone in your life who needs more mercy than judgement? Someone who could say to you, like that little guy said to me, “You didn’t know?”