A young couple moves into a new neighbourhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbour hanging the wash outside.
“That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looks on, remaining silent.
Every time her neighbour hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments.
A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband:
“Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.
The husband replies, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life…
What we see when watching others, depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.
I have shared this little story with a few people and had a great laugh.
I would like to take it one step further and suggest that as a little exercise place yourself in the shoes of each of the three people in the story.
- The Neighbour. Here she is hanging out her washing. Going about her daily business while all along being judged, unfairly, by her new neighbour. Ever been judged by others? You know how it feels then.
- The Young Woman. She knows how to wash clothes. She sits in superiority over her neighbour, judges with personal comparisons and condemns her unfairly. She wants to give advice and bring the neighbour up to her standard. Ever judged others?
- The Husband. He has a bigger perspective and looks at the whole story. He sees something his wife doesn’t see and then does something about. He enables his wife to be potentially capable of reaching a different conclusion all by herself. He doesn’t tell her the window is dirty and that she is reading the whole situation wrong. Instead he provides an opportunity for her to see things differently. For her to learn in her judging manner. He realises that her perspective is her reality and that it will be her choice to change her perspective.
Well I am sure we can all identify the first two characters, but being the Husband requires patience, wisdom, and listening. It will require us to look for third options.
Jesus said this
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)
Ok, I am off to wash some clothes and clean some windows.
Questions to consider and leave a comment.
- How did it feel to be in each of their shoes?
- What would it take for you to stop judging your neighbour in certain ways?
- How do we become like a child with clean window perspective?