Writings from the Heart

Judge Less, Smile More

There was something comforting about the man reading aloud to himself.

He was sitting in Starbucks, alone on the stool. His hardcover copy of The Odyssey lay open on the counter. He held his glasses just above his eyes as he read, and his voice sounded old and raspy.

He had stared at me, emotionless. He showed neither contempt nor joy when I smiled at him. I decided he wasn’t my favorite person. I shouldn’t have judged him.

He continued reading, and occasionally laughed at himself. I liked that he did that. I laugh to myself all the time.

I looked for the good on the surface, but still he looked up and stared at me with no emotion. Why is he staring?

He continued to read. I couldn’t understand his words over the blending sounds of Starbucks’ machines, but I clearly heard the words “suffered greatly.” That tugged on my heart.

I didn’t know anything about this man, who was sipping dark roast from a mason jar he brought himself. Had he suffered? What did he go through? Was he happy? The guilt from my prejudice began to eat me alive.

I love to smile at everyone, hoping they’ll see the love of God through my smile, because we truly don’t know what people are going through. But there I was judging a man for staring at me. The man and I had been sitting across from each other for over an hour, and my continuous smiles sparked no emotion, but in the end I decided I’d keep smiling, bigger and bigger each time.

We don’t know the kind of lives people are living. We don’t know what makes them angry, or sad, or alone. We don’t know what makes them happy, or peaceful, or hopeful. We should not judge. I shouldn’t judge.

Sometimes all we can do is smile. We don’t know what that will do for them.

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