When I was in first grade, I suddenly became the target of some bullying.
A little boy in my class began taunting me at recess,
claiming he was going to do outlandish things to my mom
(ridiculous, but scary to a six-year-old nonetheless).
I recall standing on the playground arguing with him as he told me
he was going to put my mom in hot lava.
Another day he told me he was going to bring a knife to school and cut her up.
I was devastated, and quite frightened of my little classmate.
One day I went home rather distraught, and in talking about things with my mom,
she gently took me onto her lap
and explained that his mom had cancer and they weren't sure if she would live.
Although I was young, it was made very clear that
because of his insecurity and fear,
he lashed out at me.
My mom often volunteered in my classroom,
and her very kind, motherly personality made each child feel accepted and at ease.
Seeing this ideal must have magnified his fears that he would lose his own world of security.
I've thought about this experience often as I've grown.
It's so easy to criticize, to judge, to take offense,
to superimpose our current situation and frame-of-reference onto the actions of another.
Yet we never know what lies beneath.
People are like icebergs; we often see 10 percent of what is wrapped up in a person's actions
with no way to evaluate the 90 percent hidden from view.
And recognizing that makes it a lot easier to "not therefore judge one another any more;
but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall
in his brother's way." (Romans 14:13)