School science lessons are, generally, something I’ve forgotten. However, one simple activity I remember well. It was a lesson starter: we were given a sheet of paper, on which were drawn a handful of cartoon pictures, each one with a statement underneath. We then had to discuss whether the statement was something which we could emphatically say was true, with only the picture to go on – or whether it was merely an assumption.
Most of the pictures were straightforward, and I don’t remember them in any detail. But, unsurprisingly, the one which was trickier to work out is the one I remember clearly. A child was standing on a pond which had frozen over. There was a sign visible, which read: “Danger: thin ice” or similar. The statement was “The child is being very silly.” Well, of course he was. Our group was in total agreement. However, when we came to discuss our answers as a class, the teacher asked “How do you know he’s being silly? He might be going to rescue someone who’s drowning.”
Of course the point was made very clearly. Science is about testing things to see if they’re true. A good scientist must train themselves not to make assumptions with no evidence.
I’m not a scientist, but I do have trouble with assumptions. You see, I’m very judgemental. I’m not proud of it – in fact I hate the way my mind jumps to judgements about a person or a situation – but there we go. I’m a judge. There’s no better job I could be doing right now to refine and hone this part of my character, because whenever I see a parent with a small child, I’m liable to make assumptions. And, when I do, I’m instantly convicted. God is helping transform me into someone who lets Him do the judging, not me.
It’s so easy to do: I see a parent, pushing their child in a pushchair, and a mundane feature such as what the child is eating, what the parent is doing, or how the two are interacting, can lead me to come to all manner of unfair conclusions. Actually, I need to remember that the vast majority of parents are doing the very best for their children, and I should instead look to praise, build up, smile and encourage those I meet. Perhaps you identify with some of my struggles?
If you do, then can I encourage you that the next time you see a small child out in the snow with no hat or gloves, you stop inwardly berating the irresponsible mother, and just smile sweetly instead.
Because that irresponsible mother is me. And that child is Lois – who, for love nor money, will not keep a hat or gloves on for more than a second!