Don’t Judge a Book Buy The Cover

I learned a good lesson recently.

Well, I guess it wasn’t new. Let’s say I was reminded of a good lesson recently.

Since it involves a moment of personal vulnerability in someone else’s life, I’m going to leave out lots of details that would probably make it a better story and just cut to the chase. If we ever get the chance to sit down and chat, you can ask me for the long version :0)

Here goes:

A couple of weeks ago I sat with a handful of brothers in a friend’s dining room.

We were sharing prayer requests and praying for each other, and a new friend of mine shared a short story.

You probably can’t fully appreciate his story without knowing him a lot better than it’s my place to help you here, but we’re talking about a guy who seems to really have it together. At a glance, he appears to fit nicely into lots of stereotypes, several of which us hypocrites love to judge.

You also need to know that he has been jobless for quite a while, although, pulling up in his driveway, you would never guess that the man who owns the house hasn’t had a consistent paycheck in over a year.

OK. So with that tiny snapshot, here’s what he shared:

He said that the previous week, his wife had been out of town visiting family for the holidays, so, with nobody in need of his attention, he decided to seize the opportunity to catch up on a couple of movies he had been wanting to see.

One of the movies was the Russell Crowe film “Cinderella Man“, which is based on the true story of Jim Braddock.

He said it was strange that he decided to watch it, because he had already seen it in the past, and he never watches a movie twice.

Nevertheless, he put it in late one night after staying busy all day.

If you haven’t seen the film or read the story of Braddock, the crux is that he couldn’t find work during the great depression, so he became a boxer in a desperate effort to keep food on his family’s table. The movie is very deep – the cinematography is kind of gray, representative of the period in American history that it represents. And you get a glimpse into this guy’s daily grind of getting up early and doing whatever it takes to keep his wife and kid warm and fed, even when this means literally taking a beating in the boxing ring.

My friend vulnerably shared that while watching that movie, he cried for the first time in ten years.

He said that he looked at a man who was desperate to provide for his family — desperate to be able to look into his wife’s eyes and see respect and admiration.

He said that after a year of spending all day, every day looking for full-time work, he knows exactly how that feels.

He said that what has been especially hard for the last year is that when you have a full-time job, there is a clear calendar of when to work and when to rest. There are weekends and vacations and holidays. But when you don’t have a job, and your job is to look for a job, there are no weekends, no holidays, no vacations. You are always scrambling to try and figure out how you’re going to land a salary — and with it, some sort of stability.

He said that though he hasn’t been boxing, he knows the feeling of emotional and mental exhaustion of the character in the movie.

This wasn’t some sort of tear-filled, heart-wrenching, lay-hands-and-pray-for-me moment. It lasted for 2 minutes and he wash just sharing the way that he would like for us to be praying for him.

But it was a wealth of an education for me.

So far, by God’s grace, I haven’t had to experience what it feels like to be unemployed while being responsible for a family.

And I never in a million years would have guessed that this friend was wrestling with the weight he carries on his shoulders.

Never.

You could fit my house in his living room. He seems to be playing a different ball game.

But at the end of the day, a man is a man. Whether he’s hunting in a field, or boxing in a ring, or filling out endless job applications and networking with everyone he’s ever known, he’s really just trying to be a provider.

In the end, my jump to conclusions where a great hindrance to my ability to effectively love this brother.

Who are you doing that to in your life right now?