So I sat in a courtroom today and was overwhelmed by the broken stories that surrounded me. Broken relationships, broken finances, broken homes. At one point I just hung my head from the weight of it all.
I sat, listening and remembering all the times I sat in that same courtroom waiting to see if I’d be chosen for jury duty. (I never was.) The first time was when I was in college. I was so young then. Things looked a lot different in that grand room today, and I promise you they haven’t changed so much as a window blind. Especially not those hard wooden benches.
I looked around and saw a man seated in the middle of the courtroom. His shirt had the message on the back: “It’s on like Donkey Kong.” Which cracks me up. But as I sat there, I wondered if he had really thought through his shirt choice. He was there, part of what seemed like a less than amicable case. I sat thinking, as there was little else to do. Phones were to be shut off, I couldn’t see the only clock in the room, I really couldn’t hear the folks giving their side of each story, and I had left my book at home despite my good intentions. The more I thought about it, I realized maybe he wore the shirt to garner the same wherewithal that I wore these for:
When I wear these, I feel like I can conquer the world. At least my little small segment of it anyway. So I wear them to bolster my confidence and remember the girl I was raised to be by the folks who gave them to me.
Maybe the shirt does the same for this guy. It sounded like he was going to need it.
So yeah, I decided that instead of judging folks for their fashion choices in situations such as court or theater or LIFE, maybe I should be a bit more understanding. Then my eyes landed on the woman in her pajama bottoms. No sooner than my brain and eyes had done a double take, she ran out of the room about to be sick to her stomach. Ah. Bless her.
Around our house, the motto is “Comfort is King.” I get it. I had to fight the urge to wear my jeans today. (I compromised with a denim dress, my boots, and a rather matronly sweater. Ignore the safety pins in the back of my GW Boutique dress to make it fit. The sweater covered them, and I only set off the security scanner twice.) So yes, I knew what prompted her to wear the pajamas, and then the fact that she was sick…..I wanted to applaud her for even showing up. Bless her heart. (and stomach) Not everyone who is supposed to show up actually does, did y’all know that? Anyway, I wanted to high five her, but I didn’t, out of respect of her condition and my germophobia. But I did in my mind. (Does that count?)
And so it goes. My lesson for today was don’t judge folks. Period. I don’t know what path they walked that brought them to that room, just like they don’t know my story. The most important thing we’re told to do is love other folks. I think it’s time to look beyond tattoos, piercings, baggy/saggy pants, and all the stuff that makes us different–and look to see the person beyond all that window dressing. Not all who have body piercings or tattoos are uncontrollable wild creatures, and not all who wear business suits and buns have their acts together and are productive members of society. We all have hearts and a story. It’s time to cut through all the extra stuff and just listen. Listen for the heart in each story, to what brought them where they are. And to love. In the end, all that extra stuff really doesn’t matter anyway. Bottom line–we’re more the same than we are different.
Life’s just too short to believe otherwise.