Today, I've been spending time in the garden. It's been a beautifully bright sunny day, with a cold breeze. Having my hands in the earth, tending the plants and removing the invasive roots of the weeds feels good.
I discovered something about nettles as I attempted to remove them from the flower bed. They may appear as individual plants but just below the earth, they are connected by extensive root systems. As I pulled on yet another long length of root that trailed just under the surface of the earth, it got me thinking about what is unseen in our lives, and the judgement we make.
It reminded me of an experience I had when I took my then 9-year-old son on a Family Adventure Holiday to Egypt. He'd been studying Egyptians at school and one day said 'wouldn't it be amazing to actually see the pyramids'. So, we did. (It was one of those occasions when things somehow just fell into place and magic happened.)
We joined a small group of families for our 14 day tour. Turning up as a single parent, having left one child behind as he was too young, I felt everyone else had it all. There was the couple with a girl and the boy, both at private school; there was the couple with a gorgeous young daughter; and the couple with a teenage son. They all had amazing stories of travel adventures, and I felt inadequate because I had no stories of my own to share. They all appeared to have perfect, enviable lives.
But one by one, as I spent time getting to know them, I discovered that all is certainly not what it seems on the surface. One couple had actually been living apart for a couple of years as work had demanded they be at opposite ends of the country. The children only saw their dad at weekends. The couple with the teenage son were a blended family and had both experienced the loss of their first partners. And, most tragic, and most shocking, the couple with the gorgeous young daughter had lost their son very suddenly to meningitis just a year earlier. He would have been the same age as my son.
My world view shifted. I was making assumptions. I had no idea until I dug a little deeper under the surface what the truth of their lives really was. It's easy to forget what we see isn't the whole picture.
Have you had an experience where you'd made a judgement about someone, and then discovered that the truth was actually very different?