Reluctantly, at the end of a very busy day, I left Christian with the kids and headed for the grocery store.
Often, grocery runs are peppered with excuse me’s and oh, what adorable kids’s and you sure have your hands full, don’t you’s, but this was a blessedly quiet grocery trip. At twenty-five minutes to closing time, Aldi was nearly deserted, Gerbes a little less so. But I managed to clear my list without talking to anyone, and that was kind of nice.
And then I got in line behind a pair of young women—probably sisters, I thought, and winced as they put seven canisters of formula on the counter, trying not to pass judgment on the choice not to breastfeed. After all, maybe the mom had to work at a place where she couldn’t pump. Next out of the cart came two gallons of Hawaiian punch, three 2-liter bottles of soda, a bag of Doritos, and some various and sundry candies. Not your place to judge, I told myself again. Maybe they’re having a party. We would fill a grocery cart with that kind of stuff if we were having a party. Knock it off!
I glanced down at the floor and saw a pair of strappy silver-sparkled heels protruding from the jeans, and thought, those are odd shoes for grocery shopping. And then I looked up, and saw the black eye.
There are any number of legitimate ways that a person could get a black eye. A fall. A kid with a toy who has a wild, uncontrolled swing. Walking into a door half-asleep (I did that once, though thankfully my glasses took the brunt of the damage). But the first thing I thought of—and I’m sure I’m not alone—was abuse.
And suddenly, the voices of negativity ceased. In that moment, I finally found something within myself that silences the ugliness of judgment.
I found compassion.