I found this in my memories on FB a few days ago. I didn’t write it but shared it and have been thinking about it ever since. I have been this person, walked in those shoes, recognised myself in those words. It’s kind of me to a T. I have no guile at all. My every thought and emotion plays out upon my face like a flashing billboard whether I want it to or not. I saw my own impatience, annoyance, selfishness. But, I also saw the grace of others that I have recieved when I was slow or inept, struggling…how I was shown compassion, patience and given encouragement. I felt petty, small and ashamed of myself. But, most of all, I felt as though I’d been awakened from a long slumber, more conscious in the moment to choose kindness, love and grace and not for appearances sake but in earnest, to love others behind their backs. “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” – John Wooden
An elderly man put his creamer in his coffee. Not knowing that I was standing behind him waiting for my turn, he took his time, carefully shaking just enough sweetener into his cup, stirring slowly and intentionally.
As his back was still turned from me, I grew irritated and impatient. and then I ROLLED MY EYES AT HIM. I literally rolled my eyes at him in disgust. At a little old man! That’s as horrible as it gets. Then, he turned around, and I flashed him a smile, as if I wasn’t irritated at all. He gave me a nod and shuffled off.
Then, I saw the cashier looking our way. She had seen the whole thing. She had witnessed my selfish eye roll, my impatient foot tapping, and then my half hearted, somewhat fake smile.
My stomach dropped and my heart sank. This is hard to say sometimes I really stink at being nice. Sometimes I’m really selfish and impatient.
I felt disgusting, fake, and mean. I wanted to rewind and relive it, to truly be kind instead of be kind only when I thought someone was watching.
Here’s why it matters: that ordinary morning at the coffee shop, I realized:
You never know who’s watching you. you never know who’s watching how you react, how you wait, how you love. Every moment is an opportunity to not just love someone to their face, but to love them behind their back. To love them, serve them, and understand them before they turn around and see you. To put them first when they aren’t looking, don’t notice, and don’t return the smile.
We tend to have to problem loving when it’s seen, received, and appreciated. But loving when it’s unseen, unnoticed, and even unappreciated? That’s the challenge.
So, before you repeat that rumor about the girl you don’t like, roll your eyes at the one holding you up, or fake a smile, remember: give grace when it’s undeserved and unseen. And don’t just be kind or love them to their face, love them behind their back.
That’s when it’s real. That’s world changing stuff.