Don’t judge others too quickly

Published 12:32 am Saturday, February 22, 2014

When my husband was in the ministry, I tagged along one day when he visited a couple who were members of a church he had just started to serve. I immediately got the impression from the wife that she was unfriendly. Soon after, I learned that she had a hearing problem. In reality, this person was kind, caring and fun. As the months fell away, she became a dear friend.

I had made a quick judgment call with little basis for what I supposed. A friend from a northern state who spent her summers in Alabama told me how the locals in her small town felt about some city visitors who flocked there to fish and hunt every summer. These visitors never got to know the town residents. Didn’t care to, in fact. They just dashed in the grocery stores, grabbed what they needed, checked out, filled their tanks at the gas stations, paid the cashiers, and rushed off to enjoy their recreational pursuits. The locals felt pretty much the same way. They appreciated their business, but they nurtured some misconceptions about the visitors.

Somebody noticed this happening year after year and decided it was time to change things. That person approached my friend and her husband and suggested that they organize a senior citizens group. When the city folks drifted in that spring, several of the locals invited them to the gatherings. They accepted. As a result, there was a big change in that little town that summer. The group held covered dish dinners and put on programs. Everyone began to share his or her talent.

The city people found out that locals were not too different from themselves. The locals quickly realized the same thing. By combining skills, talents and knowledge, this diverse group of people found out they could accomplish many things. The most wonderful part was that the local folks and the city folks discovered they enjoyed being with each other.

When my husband and I set out with our RV, we met people we would have never known otherwise. They came from various walks of life with varied skills and talents. Today I am still in touch with many of them. I would never have visited Arizona where my friend Billie Rusk lives if we had not met her and her husband camping in the early 1990s. It might appear we had nothing in common. Billie and I share a love of writing. We felt an immediate kinship the moment we said our first hellos.

My experience with that person I thought was unfriendly taught me to reserve judgment until I was around someone a little longer. Maybe a person you think is unfriendly does not meet strangers easily, so be patient. That person you considered a grump might surprise you with an act of kindness. And the one you thought never smiles might even crack a joke. Remember, ice melts when things warm up around it.