This afternoon I went out driving with my 16 year old daughter. We have been out once before. Now she is finished with the classroom part of Driver's Ed and ready to head out with her instructor with the road part of the class. So I planned a drive out to the nearby town of Lebanon where she could get behind the wheel and drive on some country roads. I thought this might help her feel a bit better prepared for her time with the instructor.
I was wrong. She wanted no part of driving on the road. So we went up to the school instead. For 20 minutes she practiced going around the parking lot and driving down the two way roads of the long driveway. She felt good about that.
I thought she would enjoy the freedom and opportunity to get out on the road. I based that on a few mistaken assumptions that came out of my own experience. I grew up in the country and by the time I was fourteen I had already driven go-carts, lawn mowers, tractors, motorcycles and cars. We had 38 acres of woods and a big yard. On my first day with the Driver's Ed instructor I already had hours of experience behind the wheel of the car. I did fine and was not nervous at all. My story is not my daughter's story.
Later tonight it struck me that we often project our own experience and understanding onto others. If we get annoyed easily, we think everyone does. If we check out all the facts before we draw a conclusion, then most people probably do the same. If we have a lot of faith, we think others should too.
That's why when someone acts different then we expect, we are taken aback and wonder what they must have been thinking. We jump to conclusions based upon our own assumptions and make judgments about their character, their motivations and their actions. I think that's why God said that we are not to judge one another. We don't know their hearts. We don't know their struggles. We don't know what they are thinking. But here's the good news. God does. It's good news because God also knows our hearts and what we are thinking. He knows our motivations and He still reaches out to offer forgiveness.
My daughter did great today. She was driving with more confidence by the time we finished our circles. By the time she hits the road she will be ready. I'm not saying this from my own experience. I'm saying it because she will hit the road when she's ready, not me.