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Looking Beneath the Surface

by | May 27, 2022 | Acceptance, Judging, Relationship

How easy it is to judge someone. I suspect the majority of us do not make these judgments on purpose. We do not seek to find things in someone else that we don’t like. Maybe we don’t even really think about whether or not the person in question is a “good” person.

Whether we are seeking to know something about someone or not, our subconscious minds are always on the alert, and they register what they see and hear. And no matter how hard we may try, the recordings of our subconscious minds influence our thinking. As a result, we often have a preconceived idea about who or what someone is before we even meet them.

I currently have my late mom’s cat, Dundee. As I have previously written, Dundee and I don’t have a great history. I’ve taken him to the vet and groomers too many times for him to trust me, and as a result, during his 13 years with my mom, I rarely saw him. And when I did, it was him cowering in some corner. I don’t know how many times I said to my mom, “That cat of yours doesn’t have any personality!” Her response was always the same: “That cat of mine has enough personality for two cats!” Nonetheless, I didn’t believe it. Why? Because it wasn’t in line with what my senses had registered.

Now that Dundee lives temporarily at my house, he and I have raised the white flag. He no longer sees me as the enemy. It has taken a couple months, but over time I have begun to see a totally different side of Dundee. And I will humbly admit that my judgment of him was wrong! He does, indeed, have enough personality for two cats!

For 12 years I’ve held this wrong concept of Dundee, all because of my own perception of him. Only now, when we are forced to get to know one another, do I see that I’ve been wrong. And conversely, it’s only now, that we’re forced to get to know one another, Dundee also sees that he was wrong in his judgment of … me!

It makes me wonder how many of my other preconceived ideas about so many other people have also been 100% wrong? If I had only taken the time to get to know those people, would I have held them in such low esteem? Perhaps not! And of the many people who thought negative things about me … Had they taken the time and effort to truly get to know … me … would they have also changed their perceptions of me?

The Bible teaches us: “Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” (John 7:24 NLT) I would suggest that this is exactly what we need to do!

To take this a little farther, so many people also hold on to negative concepts of God. Some don’t believe He exists; some don’t believe He cares about His creation; some don’t believe He cares about them personally. Are these people a bit like Dundee and I? Are they judging God simply because they’ve never made the effort to get to know Him?

I know that with Dundee, I did often try to get to know him a bit more. The problem was, he only saw me as someone who put him in a cage and carried him off somewhere. This mental image of Dundee stood in the way of our relationship.

I remember having a conversation once with someone who proclaimed atheism. He told me there had been a time in his life when he had truly sought God; but God wasn’t to be found. I don’t want to be judgmental, because I have no idea whatsoever what was going on in that person’s life at the time he was seeking God. I wonder, however, if like Dundee, there was some mental image standing in the way — maybe of a strict God who didn’t want his creations to have fun, or of a God who lets people suffer… All I can say for sure is that God can be found for the Bible promises this: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” (James 4:8a NLT). God wants a relationship with us!

Perhaps it is time for us to put away our preconceptions and truly seek God. Maybe it is time for us to follow the advice of 2 Chronicles 7:14: “…if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (NLT). If we would truly confess our concepts of God to Him, humble ourselves before Him and seek who He truly is, then God would reveal Himself to us as well. He would “hear from Heaven”. He will dazzle us with His presence, He will cause us to fall so deeply in love with Him that all preconceived ideas are washed away!

What preconceived ideas are you holding on to? Are they about your mom’s cat? Or more importantly, are they about someone else? Maybe even about … God? It’s time to let them go and truly seek to know the ones we have inadvertently been judging. We need to look beneath the surface. We need to humble ourselves and seek to know truly know them. Then be prepared to be amazed at the change in your perception!

In His love,

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two adult boys, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, The Illustrator, a four-times-a-week internet newsletter, and the Sermon Illustrator website, all with Answers2Prayer Ministries.