I am Elizabeth Bennet.
I'm a sucker for love stories and Jane Austin's Pride & Prejudice is a classic! One aspect of the story that I enjoyed was figuring out which characters took turns being the pride and prejudice. When it came down to the main lovers, I always viewed it as Darcy was the pride and Lizzie was the prejudice, but then I came to the conclusion that Lizzie was both proud and prejudice. I'll be honest that I wanted to strangle Lizzie's neck or run in the story and slap her prideful little face and tell her to allow Darcy to change instead of concluding he was this monster he really wasn't! But today, I realized I was just like Lizzie; the very traits I struggled with in her were within me. I've always been one to judge off of "first impressions" and generally I'm pretty good at reading people and knowing if it will be a potential partnership or friendship. But sometimes, just like Lizzie, we can make a judgment and be so set in our opinion that we could miss something we never would have expected.
Let me lay the backstory. A week ago I added yet another job to my schedule and my first day was last Wednesday. This was a job with a professional cleaning service so my first day on the job would be at a house that would take almost all day, where myself and another new girl would be training beside the boss and another seasoned worker. We arrived at the house where I'm introduced to everyone and that was when I met J. (I will just refer to her as J for privacy purposes.) The very first interaction I had with her was not even fully between us. She spoke a couple words such as "hello" and "I'm tired" and "what are we cleaning" and then stopped to stand between me and the homeowner. That interaction then turned into me watching J interact with the homeowner in a way I thought was rude and impolite! And right then and there, at that very moment, I said in my heart that I didn't like J. And I was right. I wouldn't like her. J was rude.
The whole 6 hours I was working with her were very frustrating and really forced me to work on my patience and my Proverbs 15 "soft answers." I worked hard to make sure I wasn't cleaning in the same room as her, but when I did end up having to, everything I did was wrong according to her. When that day was over, I made the same mistake I always seem to make. I told God I "never" or "didn't want" something to happen. "I don't ever want to have to be paired with J" was a reoccurring thought as I drove home, but just like every other time I told God in my heart that I didn't want something or I hoped something would never happen to me, He would always make it happen just to teach me a valuable lessons. And this would be another one of those moments.
I received my schedule for the following work week and probably sat there for a good minute in silence. I was scheduled to work all of my shifts with J. At first, I was furious. Then I was dreading each of those days. In my mind, the only comfort I had would be I would have the other new girl would be working along with me and I would only be working alone with J on Friday. I walked into the first day very weary and I don't think I said much at all. As time went on, I tried to make myself seem more open, but by the end of our time on Wednesday, I was seeing a totally different side of J. She was actually just a really genuine person who just had a lot going on in her life. As I pondered how Wednesday had progressed I realized I had just witnessed a very stressed and overwhelmed J when I first met her. People's circumstances influence their behavior at any given moment and I just neglected to take it into account. By the time Friday came, I told myself I wanted to prove myself friendly and wipe the slate clean of any prejudice.
And you know what? Friday was the best day ever! J and I formed such a bond that we were sharing laughs, had our own little catchphrase, and were sharing stories and just talking. By the time we finished for the day and were walking to our cars, J made the comment about how she really hoped we would be paired together again. And you know what? I hoped so too.
I learned many valuable lessons wrapped up in one experience, but the greatest flaw I identified in myself was the ability I had to make assumptions and struggle to view someone differently later. Because of that, I really struggle to let go of those views and give someone a second chance. But this experience with J really taught me what I am missing when I write people off. Also, it made me think about other friendships or acquaintances I have that maybe need the same chance as J. I also saw the pride in my heart that made me see myself as better or perfect and everyone else as needed to rise to my standard. It's not like I have bad days or any flaws, right? 😜
I identified my pride and my prejudice. I was faced with the mirror that made me realize the flaws I criticized in Lizzie were actually the unrestrained monsters in myself. What I so desperately wanted to fix in Lizzie were things I didn't want to face in myself. But that's what Jesus meant in Matthew 7:
I'm a hypocrite. The very things I want to fix in other people are the areas I need to fix in myself. No one will attain perfection while on this earth, but a humble spirit - that recognizes fault, admits shortcomings and seeks to pursue Christ-likeness - will walk that path of sanctification. Take note of those shortcomings you are so quick to judge or give people and prayerfully consider that God may be trying to work on an uglier sin in your life.
May this be all of our prayers!