This post was supposed to be about prejudgement, but it is turning into something else in my head. Lack of openness is as much a part of this as is prejudgement. See, I was reading a fellow bloggers post asking for prayers for a dying friend named JoAnna (whom if you would be so kind as to pray for her complete healing, I am sure he would appreciate that). Somehow that got me thinking about my father's wake several years ago. I got to thinking about a conversation I had with a neighbor that day, who was once a good friend of my dad's, but they drifted apart...
Greg: Tsk. Such a shame. He probably could have recovered better if he didn't drink...
Helen: Greg, dad didn't drink for the last 15 years. Not even when I graduated from college. He said when I was about 8 that as he gets older, he finds it makes him sick. He couldn't handle more than one drink without get nauseous, so he stopped drinking all togetherl (making it hard for him to get along with drinkers in the family who thought accepting a drink was equal to accepting hospitality. "Love me, love my whiskey..").
Greg: Helen, I saw your dad come home staggering...
Helen: Greg, he worked twelve hour days in a hot factory and had half a foot on one leg, varicose veins throbbing in both legs....What do you expect?
Greg: Half a foot?
Helen: Yeah. It was from a farming accident when he was a boy.
Greg: Why didn't he tell me?
Helen: Why would he?
Greg: When I said something about his staggering....?
Helen: I guess he would rather have you thinking he was drunk than pitying him.
Greg and I continued with a little small talk, then I left to talk to others. Someone soon asked me who he is, because he was weeping. I just said he was an old friend of dad's. They said that he must have loved him a lot. I imagine (though I may be prejudging myself), that he was weeping over years where their friendship could have continued beautifully if he hadn't misjudged, or if my dad had trusted him enough with the knowledge of his injury. They both screwed up, and paid a price. Neither of them assumed the best about their friend, but the worst. I am going to work harder to assume the best about my friends, family, and people around me, instead of the worst. When I weep at their wakes, I want it to be because I feel sorry for the loss to their families and myself of the future with them, not the past.
I also am going to work at being honest with my friends about stuff. No more "fine", if it isn't. Doesn't "fine" when things aren't fine tempt people to draw their own conclusions, which may hurt them more than finding out what is wrong? I am going to assume that they are loving enough to take the truth about me, whatever it is.
Sorry if I sound like Polly Anna. But my dad had a saying. "Sure, people learn from their mistakes. But smart people are able to learn from the mistakes of other". I hope I am smart enough to truly learn from their mistake. I hope you all are able to get something from it, too.