I have a chain-smokin’ grandma and I want to tell you all about her!
Generally when I talk about my grandma, I mention her laugh or the fact that as we walk outside admiring her flowers along her front walk, she makes me feel like a small child again taking a walk with grandma. Or my favorite—and where I get my sweet tooth from—she always has some kind of chocolate in her fridge just waiting for us to get there! When we were little kids at Ninaw's (that is what we call our mama's mom), our mama tended to let Ninaw spoil us a bit and not have to ask her permission every time we wanted to splurge on her chocolate. Now as an adult with younger and grown siblings and nephews, if you come to my house, you will find I have carried on the “chocolate drawer” just as Ninaw always has.
All of that to say this: I love my grandmother. I think about her, pray for her, and count the days until I can see her again in person. She is a chain smoker but I never thought of her as that, and I will tell you why.
When I was about 17 years old, some people we were close to were making choices we did not agree with, and I have to say my attitude toward them was a little rotten. Thoughts of “how could they do this?” swirled around in my head. I can clearly remember sitting at our family’s supper table, my favorite time of day. As the conversation turned to this topic, something was said that, although it was not untrue, should not have been spoken. I can still hear the words my parents shared with us. “Beware of judging and condemning someone. You are ONE choice away from being right in their spot.”
I remember feeling like the air in my lungs was sucked out all at once. Why did I ever think I was in a place to know what brought that person to where they are now? Here I was, still sitting in the safety of my parents’ home, surrounded by a loving family who, through it all, was always going to be there. I never had to make choices that might put me RIGHT in that same spot.
I have never forgotten that bit of wisdom my parents shared with us that day. I do not see the cigarette hanging from my grandma's mouth; I see the love in her eyes and her smile when she sees me. I don't see the smoke billowing around her; I hear her laughing to the point she has tears in her eyes as one of my siblings or I do something outrageous! I don’t smell the smoke; I smell a pot roast she lovingly cooked so we would have a hot meal after traveling all day to see her. I don't hear the raspy laugh of a smoker; I hear the laugh of a woman I love so dearly.
On the flip side, I know that everyone is ONE decision from choosing Jesus Christ just as I have, and only through Jesus can their life be changed! How exciting is that? You, as a child of God, are a walking, talking testament of Jesus Christ! Every day you influence how people see God. Are they going to see someone with a prideful look or someone who has the confidence of the Holy Spirit in them? Will they find love or someone who condemns? Will they see an unhappy, sorry excuse for a human or someone who shines with the joy of Jesus? Take time to love others instead of being their judge. One day they will stand before God Almighty, and I don't want them to point at me and say, “Well, God, that is the example I had of you, and she is a judgmental, miserable hypocrite.” Look at people through the eyes of a God who loves them just as much as he does you.
I will be the first to say I still struggle with a thought of condemnation and judgment toward people both lost and saved, but I am aware of it now and am able to put it aside and look into my own life and remember I am one step from being in their shoes.
Matthew 7:5 says, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of they brother's eye." God gives us this reminder because we need reminding.
Let’s keep reminding ourselves we have our own problems to work on and stop looking at others as if we are better than they are.