As I came out of the drama and scanned the crowd for someone to talk to, I noticed a woman who was noticeably shaking. She sat down on a bench and called out, “What’s going on here?” I glanced around and realized that everyone around me was in conversation already, so I sat down next to her on the bench and began to share with Marta about the dramas. I quickly found out that she was Catholic, but had stopped going to church because she felt judged by everyone. I noticed that she had been shaking the whole conversation and I had been wondering if she was cold, had a medical problem, or was on drugs. She told me that she had Parkinson’s disease, and that she was so fed up with people thinking she was a drug addict. She turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’ve never done drugs a day in my life. Why do people always judge me?”
My heart broke for her. I realized that I too had judged her, and that this beautiful woman was just misunderstood by everyone who only looked at her shaking body. They didn’t look past her outer appearance to realize how smart, funny, and kind she was. During the conversation she kept telling me how much she loved the dramas, and how she loved Jesus and was so grateful that he died for her. I asked her if I could pray for her, and she said yes. I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed specifically that God would heal her heart from all of the judgements that people had put on her. When I finished praying, I looked up and saw that he was crying. I asked her if I could hug her and she said, “I was hoping you’d ask!”
I had such a wonderful evening, talking to Marta and getting to know this child of God who just needed love and acceptance from those around her. I recalled a verse from the Bible that reminded me why we shouldn’t judge people: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7)
I encourage you as you come across people to remember that God doesn’t see what we focus on—inside everyone is a heart and a soul that God cares so deeply about and sent his Son to die on the cross for. God loves each and every person on this planet, even if others don’t always see or understand why. After all, I know that I am not always lovable, and I too am sometimes misunderstood by those around me. Don’t I want the benefit of the doubt from people? Don’t I want unconditional acceptance by others?
God shows his love for us by looking past our outer appearance and focusing instead on our hearts. Will you follow his example?