I was just enjoying the sermon in church, you know those moments when you feel the message is just for you, when the spirit is moving and you are recounting the many wrongs you have done and remorsefully asking God for mercy when this little child at my back started destabilizing my countenance and spiritual focus with her screams and cries. In my mind, I was like “is this child evil? shouldn’t she be aware that this is absolutely the wrongest time to make her opinion heard with such a distasteful outburst? What sort of child screams in church? Can’t her mother spank some sense into this child?”. Seemed like a trap but as soon as those thoughts came into my head, a word came into my heart saying “why are you condemning a child when you don’t even know what she is going through? why are you condemning this child that doesn’t even know her left from her right? why are you condemning her like you acted differently when you were her age? If she knew better, don’t you think she would act better?”.
Below is a piece originally sighted in Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Win Friends and Influence People” but credited to W. Livingston Larned titled “Father Forgets”. Its touching and should teach everyone a lesson on dealing with children and people in general.
FATHER FORGETS by W. Livingston Larned
“Listen, son; I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
There are things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came Up the road, I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before you boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive – and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, form a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding – this was my reward to your for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing buy a boy – a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.”
It’s no secret that people are always quick to condemn others even without understanding why they did what they did or review the options they had before making the decisions they did. Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.” As Dr. Johnson said: “God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.” Why should you and I?
Reference: How To Win Friends And Influence People By Dale Carnegie