A long time ago, I watched a very disturbing video. To be honest, I couldn’t go through the entire thing. It was that disturbing. The video showed a baby crying as a woman, who we came to understand was a maid, gruesomely attacked her over and over for whatever reason. She hit the baby with her hands, whacking her continuously. She picked something up, I can’t quite remember what it was, and used it as a weapon on the child. And when the child kept crying, she proceeded to drop the child on the ground, stepping on her repeatedly. Unfortunately for this maid, she was unaware that there was a camera in the room, and it caught EVERYTHING; to the utter shock and dismay of everyone who got to watch it. At the time I saw this video, I had no children of my own, but I cried. I was raged. How could someone do this to another human being, much less a helpless child? So I couldn’t begin to imagine how the parents of the child would have felt, or what they would have done when they eventually made this startling discovery.
As social media would have it, there was a comment section. Oh you should have read every one of them. There was no chill. People practically killed the maid with their comments and threw her body into a lagoon. That was what she deserved and the public readily gave it to her, jungle justice style. And if I wasn’t so posh with my social media etiquette, I would have jumped right in with the rest of the gang. But in the midst of the rage I felt, I was very much puzzled at what exactly could bring out the worst in someone, like I had seen in the maid.
Then I had a child.
Living very far away from family and with the very temperamental immigration officers at the border, I didn’t get the opportunity of enjoying the benefits of ‘support‘ as some others might have had it. It was tough. There were times when I would have fed my daughter, changed her diaper and made her as comfortable as she could be, but she would reward all my effort with unfathomable wails that rang like a faulty fire alarm. In those times, nothing I would do could relieve her. Frustrated? Tick. Anxious? Tick. Tired? Tick. Angry . . . ? TICK! Yes, I would get mad. For goodness’ sake, I would have stayed up a good while at night taking care of this child, and the day would give me no respite. So yes, I would be mad. One of those days, after I tried all I could to pacify her and she would have none of it, I took the advice from one of those mummy-baby-sites, dropped her in her cot and left the room just to get some air and to avoid doing something I might regret. As I left the room, all I could remember was the video I had watched a long time ago. I found myself shaking profusely. Did I feel at that point of anger and frustration that I was incapable of doing exactly the same thing that maid had done? Maybe. But only because the baby in that room was my child. But I was as angry, and without the fear of God and love for my child, I was capable of even worse, I could not deny it. If I did, I’d be a liar, then, and even now, as I write.
This morning, Facebook’s ‘On This Day’ brought back a memory of something I had shared in 2011. It was a quote by David McCasland, one of the contributors to my trusty devotional, Our Daily Bread.
We live in a world where most people are quick to call out the faults of others. The media thrives on dancing around the fires set off by the sins of anyone they can get their slippery hands on. Every juicy propaganda makes headlines, especially when it’s about someone well known to the public. Everyone on the internet is judge and jury, sentencing each other according to the self-righteousness of their own hearts. We’re all quick to think ‘I would never do that’, when in reality, we are all capable of the sins others have committed, and just maybe we might have done same, but ours have remained hidden behind the four walls of our privacy. And if we haven’t yet engaged ourselves in such wickedness, the only thing standing between us and unleashing the dragon within us is . . . GRACE.
We criticise every little thing done by others as though if given the opportunity, we might have done better. We point fingers at defaulters and bring them to their shame. We gather around the thief caught redhanded and take turns lighting him up and setting him ablaze. We condemn that person whose life’s mistakes have made it to the open as we sit tightly upon the baggages of our own blunders lest they burst free from the weight of their excesses-ness. Yes, we shake our heads and walk past the adulteress as we clench the stones in our hands, afraid to throw them for fear of being the first, but in our hearts, she already is buried under the boulder of our judgement.
Oh the log and that speck . . .
Everyone is better than the next person whose sins have been revealed, because ours still lie in the darkness. But if we be honest with ourselves, we’re no better than the thief hanging on the cross. I am no better than you reading this, and you are no better than the person you hope might be reading it too. And the bible puts it in utmost perspective:
Therefore let the one who thinks he stands firm [immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous], take care that he does not fall [into sin and condemnation]. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (AMP)
And the Message version adds some spice:
These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence. 1 Corinthians 10:12 (MSG)
So what if, like McCasland said, we consider our own frailty, and when the temptation comes to hang another on the noose that was once their halo, we appreciate that we are no better, and pray for grace on their behalf.
What if when others are swinging the axe above the head of a defaulter, we step right in and dismiss the crowd?
What if we give a helping hand to the one who has fallen around us, and let them know they are not condemned, and no matter how many times they fall, the next moment is one to rise again?
What if there were more intercessors than executioners in this world?
What if, like Oswald Chambers we can say of ourselves: “I have never met a person I could despair of, or lose all hope for, after discerning what lies in me apart from the grace of God.”