Watching children interact with themselves is very interesting.
Schools have been out for the Easter holidays and I have listened to some very interesting conversations.
As we’ve gone through school work, my older son has commented on how easy his younger sister’s work is. I have reminded him that it is age appropriate and he was once at that stage, finding the now “simple” spellings hard and the now simple math, very hard.
This morning, he ran frantically into my room, “Mummy, Lj made a mess”
Lisa-Jodi is his two year old sister who just got potty trained. Apparently, she had pooed in her potty and got inspired to carry it to her play mat! (Story for another day)
As we cleaned up, I reminded him it was all part of the growth process and he had done similar things as a younger child.
He replied, ‘I have never made a mess with poo.’
Very amused, I reminded him of the time he was over two years and we tried for the umpteenth time to potty train him. He sat thoughtfully on the potty for a few minutes, got up, walked across the room and left a trail of fecal matter across the room! Unperturbed by the fact that I, his mum, was about three months pregnant at the time and my senses of smell were heightened.
He found it very funny as I described it to him but he remained adamant, “mummy, I never pooed on the floor.”
It was unimaginable for him. How could he ever have pooed anywhere besides a toilet bowl? How?

After they left my room, I mused on this.
Isn’t that how many of us are?
We have outgrown certain phases of our lives and almost don’t remember that we ever were there.
Did we ever have relationship struggles?
Did we ever date the wrong guy?
Did we ever have problems with talking too much?
Did we ever turn in sloppy reports?
Were we ever lukewarm in the way we approached godly things?
Were we ever careless talkers? Unable to keep in a secret?
Did we ever have financial challenges, and need a few extra dollars to top up our travel cards?
Did we ever need (what we now consider) chicken change to get us through the week?
Oh, were we ever the girl chatting for long meaningless hours on the phone with a boy we knew we could never end up with but we did it for fun anyway?
We had crushes on every dude on the block.
We even “went out” with some.
But that phase of our lives seems so distant from where we are, we don’t even remember we were ever those people.
We have grown so much, it is hard to imagine.

And so, when we correct others, we pull out the cards which showcase this version of ourselves, this grown up, prim and proper version of ourselves and correct sternly. Without grace.
The mother can’t imagine how her daughter could possibly have a crush or be out on a date with this boy. He is so beneath her. But, the year books show she didn’t date differently, she’s just forgotten.
How differently will we handle people around us if we remembered how it felt to once be in their shoes?
How much more patient and compassionate would we be if we realised that there were times in our lives we were them, maybe not in the same way but with lots of similarities; making foolish decisions, hanging out with the wrong people, telling half truths, being shadows of ourselves and doing all those things we cringe at the thought of right now.

The world needs more people with more grace.
Bless the world with the process you went through.
Tell them how you overcame, and while you are at it, do it with grace.
Do it with patience, do it with love.
Remember, you are everything you are today because someone believed in you and helped you grow.
Be that ladder for someone else.
Don’t write them off because they appear sluggish and irredeemable today.
Keep believing, keep encouraging, keep praying. Never give up on anyone.
If you (with all the mess you were) could change and grow to who you are today, then who can’t?

Give people the benefit of the doubt, over and over again, and do the same for yourself. Believe that you’re trying and that they’re trying. See the good in others, so it brings out the best in you. — Liz Newman