Sometimes we all like to look at a situation and think we know exactly what is going on...
Judgment #1: She drives a BMW and lives in "that" neighborhood. There's no way she needs financial help.
Judgment #2: Driving a Lexus and carrying a Prada purse to a W.I.C. appointment? She needs Medicaid for this pregnancy? Some people really abuse the system.
Judgment #3: Just pitiful. Standin' in the Wal-mart bathroom, trying to nurse a tiny baby, holding a toddler's hand, lookin' a mess. It's just sad, really.
Judgment #4: She buys whatever she wants for herself and her kids. Their family often goes on trips and in the photos they're always having such a great time. Her home is always "together" and looks like it could be in a magazine.
These are just a few real situations that I know about from personal experience or the experience of good friends. Do you want the story behind each judgment?
Situation #1: Her dad was in a deep state of depression, contemplating suicide and wanted to make sure she would have a "good" car before he died because he knew she wouldn't be able to get any money from his life insurance policy. It has been a few years since then. Her dad did not cause his own death, but she still drives the reminder of some of the darkest days she has known. She and her husband struggle to make their mortgage each month since he worked in flooring installation for new construction and no one is building or buying right now.
Situation #2: The purse was a gift. She knows it was expensive, so she feels like she should use it. She started driving the Lexus when she was 5 months pregnant and her father-in-law suffered a catastrophic injury and her parents-in-law had to buy a wheel-chair-accessible vehicle. She and her husband have a combined annual income of less than $5,000.
Situation #3: She's in the process of moving to a new state. They've been in the car for hours. Both children needed diaper changes and it was time for another feeding. She has been packing for the last two weeks and the baby is eight weeks old. Last night was the first night she got more than six hours of consecutive sleep. Her husband was finishing the final packing and driving a few hours later.
Situation #4: Her husband is verbally, emotionally and physically abusive. He is unfaithful. Their debt is becoming overwhelming. Their home may photograph well, but a reality show from their house would tell a completely different story. She is a wounded and vulnerable woman.
You never know what someone else is going through, whether they look like they have it all together or they look like it's all falling apart. Be kind, no matter what you think you know.