Today I was thinking about something that happened last year, I may have shared this with you before, but I feel led to share it again today.
Last year, I sat at the church watching Bryson and Brailee perform their final play of the school year. I watched as Bryson quoted each line perfect and did all his dance moves just right. I was so proud of him. He studied hard and did a great job!

However, it was Brailee that I stood in amazement of. She was on the opposite side of the room with the children in pre-school. She wasn’t doing any of the dance moves the other preschoolers were doing. She wasn’t doing the hand motions. She wasn’t even singing along with them. However, she was there, she remained in her place, cowboy boots on, tapping her little foot to the music. As we watched, her mom and I, our hearts swelled with pride.

You may not think that is anything to be proud of – but then, you don’t know Brailee.

At her first play in preschool, she was terrified. She stood there only because she was forced to. She had her head down the entire time, and she was so afraid. She never looked up. My heart broke for her.

On this night, the final play of the school year. There she stood, head up, smiling at me and her Mom, and tapping that little foot to the music. I could not have been more proud. Yet, I realize you can only be that proud if you realize where she has come from. You would have to know what it took for her to stand up there, smile and be a part of the group. That is information that only those who really know her would be privy to.

I think that it is often this way with Christians. We become critical because we see born again people doing things we don’t agree with and we just can’t believe they would act that way as Christians – yet we don’t know where they have come from, do we? We don’t have any way of knowing how far they may have come to arrive at this place. We don’t know the hurt and pain they have endured in their life – if we don’t know their heart and where they have come from – why would we judge them? Only God truly knows the heart.

I was thinking about all this one day last week, yet from another perspective. You see, Breanne had asked me about a weeping willow tree that I had once planted. I told her I thought it had been cut down. She remarked ‘that is so sad, they had no idea what it took to keep that tree standing upright.’

She was right. I had planted that little tree as a twig. No one thought it would survive, but it did. It thrived. For a couple years, it grew and grew, it was an awesome sight. Then one day we had a horrible storm come through that knocked the weeping willow tree over. I was an hour away at the time, but when we arrived home, Breanne and I tied a rope around that tree and then around our waist and we pulled that tree back up. We put its roots back in the ground, secured it in place and it continued to grow…even after that storm that tried to destroy it.

The people who bought the house after we moved cut it down, not knowing the miracle in that tree. Not knowing it grew when no one thought it would survive. Not knowing it was taken out by a storm and then restored back to life and health. They had no idea what it took to keep that tree standing – and so…they cut it down.

How often do we cut people down, having no idea of what it has taken them to get to the place they are? Having no idea what it has taken to keep them standing. Having no idea how many storms they have survived…these are things I want us to consider before we are critical or judgmental of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, I was a proud Nana watching my little Brailee. It didn’t matter one bit that she didn’t sing or do all the hand motions – you see, I knew what it took for her to stand up there, smile and tap her toe and that was more than enough for me.

Let’s allow the effort of those around us be enough – and let’s let God deal with the rest.

Prayer for today: Father, teach us to love and accept others, help us to remember that only you know their hearts and where they have come from. Only you know what they have grown through and survived. Help us love like you love Father, this I ask in Jesus name. Amen.