So, I learnt something important early Saturday morning.
I was sitting with my beautiful Aunts, Uncles and much younger cousins after the Service, quite tired and ready to snooze while watching my cousin play a racing game on his Dad's tablet. As he played, another young boy who was walking past was so drawn to it that he lost himself and just stood over my cousin watching the game. My Aunt and I said to each other "Wow, games are so addictive, look at the boy, he hasn't even realised that he is peering over a stranger's shoulders and it almost seems like he is about to fall into it". We went on to imagine the level of punishment and abara (famous back-slap invented by Nigerian mothers in 1843, known to cure most forms of deviant behaviour with alarming speed) we would have had the 'pleasure' of, if it had been us.
|Oi! Where are your manners mate?|
Like we thought to ourselves, no manners! I mean, how could you just wander off, happen to see another boy in the midst of people and just stand over his shoulders, absolutely engrossed in the game that he was playing! (You know how you get when someone is reading your newspaper over your shoulders without being invited lol). Good manners say that you control yourself and just keep walking right?
Well, not too long afterwards, my Aunt whispers to me that "The woman sitting across us is his mum and can you believe that she has 5 young boys (2 sets of twins) and I happened to just make small talk with her about how she copes with all of them, when she starts to tell me with tears in her eyes that she does it alone, as their father was recently killed in Borno state by the terrorist group - Boko Haram".
I must have felt a douse of cold water on my face! I couldn't believe it! I looked again at the young boy peering over my cousin's shoulder and what I now saw was very different. I saw a boy who possibly needed to make new friends and probably escape from the hardness of life. My heart reached out to him as I couldn't imagine what life had dealt this young boy and his siblings. A life without a father.. A myriad of thoughts crossed my mind, "How does he feel?" "What did that sad loss mean to him?".. He was old enough to know what the loss of his father meant, but too young to have to deal with it.
I couldn't care less at that moment if he wanted to grab the game from my cousin's hands! It wouldn't have really mattered then. All I could see was a boy who needed all the love and understanding he could get. Far gone was my disapproving look and thoughts.
I asked God for mercy for being so hasty in judging his lack of good manners! And it dawned on me how quickly we sometimes stick our noses up at people for the way they are now or they behave, yet we do not understand the story behind that individual.
|Judged until proven innocent|
We want them to do 'the right thing' behave 'the right way', yet at that time, all they need is just to be.
It was a huge lesson for me - Always give people the benefit of your doubt. Be charitable always to others, you never know just what life has thrown at them or the enormity of what they have had to deal with. You never know what may be responsible for their actions - it doesn't excuse it all the time but it means that you empathise and just give them a break.
I will never forget a quote I read not too long ago - That individual who seems most difficult to love is probably most in need of love.
May God help us to be charitable in our thoughts and actions and to show love to all, at all times.
Have a wonderful and blessed week xx