A Free Hotel Refrigerator

Today I’m guest posting over at The House Studio. They have published some great books, things like “The Kingdom Experiment” and “Economy of Love.” You can check out a full list of their products HERE. Or you can read my guest post, which asks the question, “Would I be a better Christian if I lived in the city?” That link is HERE.

Now on to today’s regularly scheduled programming.

* * * * *

I sat at the far back corner of the Panera. As I settled in for the morning, I couldn’t help but overhear three women talking at a neighboring table.

“So then I asked if they could put us in a room with a refrigerator, but the woman on the phone said that she thought that came with an extra fee!”

“What?” another lady said.

“That’s ridiculous!” spouted the third friend.

“I know! But then she asked me if I needed the refrigerator for medicinal purposes, and of course I said yes – just figured that way I’d get it for free.”

“Of course,” said the one, in a self-righteous voice.

“What else would you say?” said the third friend.

My first-born, judgmental, follow-the-rules brain automatically thought, People are so dishonest.

Then I caught myself, like someone who has taken a bite of chocolate cake at a party, only to remember that they were giving up sweets for the week.

That stupid judgment fast, I muttered to myself.

* * * * *

From morning to night, I judge people. My first impressions are laden with critical observations: in shape or out of shape, too heavy or too skinny, too loud or too reserved, ugly or attractive, nice car (obviously they must be materialistic) or junkyard piece of crap (they probably don’t work very hard). All of these thoughts sprint through my mind in an instant.

I have been awake for only three hours this morning, but already I have judged myself for waking up too late, mentally berated a gas attendant for being so judgmental toward a customer the last time I was there, judged the driver in front of me for tailing the person in front of them, judged the driver behind me for unsafe driving, judged the lady who took my order at Panera for not being very nice, and judged the lady for not wanting to pay the refrigerator fee. I also judged this guy next to me for wearing really ugly shoes.

It’s hard work, being so judgmental.

* * * * *

Francis Frangipane writes:

Perhaps the most life-changing fast is (when)… I ask them to take a month and fast from judging. It is interesting to watch their reactions. “What will we think about?”they query. I am only saying, do not let your concluding thought end judging a person; rather, let it end in a prayer for mercy.

The instinct to judge, to criticize, is a curse…and it brings death upon us as individuals.

When I say, “fast from judging,” I do not mean we should abandon discernment. No. But judging people is not discernment. Fault-finding is not a gift…When we see something wrong, instead of turning only critical, we must learn to pray for mercy for that situation.

* * * * *

Henri Nouwen raised similar questions in my mind before.

What would life look like, if I released myself from the responsibility of criticism?

What if, for one day, I gave myself the freedom not to automatically place labels on everyone I came across?

Wouldn’t that be true freedom?

* * * * *

Don’t forget to head on over to The House Studio and check out my guest post, Would I be a better Christian if I lived in the city?

3 Replies to “A Free Hotel Refrigerator”

  1. So that’s my excuse – the first-born thing. Thanks for the “out.”

    Actually, I find that when I can (very rarely) let my judgments go I feel so much freer and less responsible. Another first-born thing is to feel responsible for taking care of everyone, and if you’re thinking everyone is doing something wrong, then that’s a lot of people to care for.

    Thanks, Shawn.

  2. Wow–got me thinking. Acceptance and appreciation are so much more comfortable than critical observation. When I put judgement aside, I can relate to other people on a “we” and “us” level. Then I can enjoy a sense of community that warms the bones. When I am judging, other people become more like objects than people like myself. Not a good situation.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I never thought of myself as particularly judgmental until I recounted my first memory to someone. I was at the hospital, closer to 3 years old than 2, trying to look through ‘the window’ to identify my new baby brother, one of maybe a half-dozen babies sleeping in those wheeled tray/cart things. Next to me was a new father trying to point out his daughter to a woman – a sister of his, maybe? They were giddy and goofy, cooing and ‘aaah’ing and ‘there she is’ing, so excited and full of life. I remember being distracted by them, looking over at them pointing and smiling at a sleeping baby, and thinking a 2.5-year-old thought along the lines of ‘they look stupid, I wish they would be quiet.’ My friend sat back, surprised, and remarked that it was interesting that my first memory is a criticism. Sadly, not much has changed since then. I should look into this prayer for mercy business.

Comments are closed.