A Lesson in Nonjudgment
Author’s Note: This article written by Paula Schneider was published in Unity Magazine in the column, God Moments, in July of 1997. My copy of the article recently re-surfaced as I looked through some memorabilia, and I offer it here for your enjoyment.
Oh no, not Mr. Flint Again! What is he doing here? I thought, even though I knew the answer. I just could not believe he was in our clinic lobby again, only three days after he had been told by our medical director that we would not supply him with any more pain medication until he kept his promise to see a local pain specialist. Up until now, Mr. Flint had been seeing our doctors regularly for chronic knee and back pain and had successfully obtained prescription medications for pain management. Nobody enjoyed taking care of him because he always had the same old complaint—“I hurt.” He would come to us, cane in hand, always sad, and always in pain. Today, I could not escape. It was my turn to check him in.
As I ushered him into my office, I thought to myself, I can’t deal with him today. All the other nurses had quickly vanished, suddenly in a big hurry to go to lunch. We sat down, and his litany of complaints began: Every movement caused pain, and none of the doctors believed he lived in constant pain, and he just didn’t know how much longer he could live with this pain, and he couldn’t take a job in a rock quarry that had been offered to him as long as he was in such pain. None of this was news to me except the part about the job. Nevertheless, I listened patiently and politely. My mind wandered a few times, and yes, I admit it, I resented having to listen to this laundry list that I’d heard many times before.
Suddenly, shame swept over me. These thoughts raced through my mind: You cannot judge this person. In fact, you don’t even really know who he is. He appears to be a miserable man who comes begging for pain pills, but you don’t really know who he is at all. You must not judge him, and furthermore, you must honor him!
I scanned his sign-in sheet: “I see here that you live on Rock Street. Isn’t that a coincidence—with you wanting to go to work at a quarry and all?” Without missing a beat, Mr. Flint replied, “Don’t you know there are no coincidences in this world?” He then launched into a discussion of quantum physics and the nature of coincidence. It turned out that he had studied anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and physics and was quite learned in these areas. He was also versed in metaphysics as well.
We talked awhile before I noticed that 45 minutes had gone by. I looked down at my appointment schedule and said, “Well, if you want to see one of the doctors, I can work you in at 1:20.” But to my surprise, he responded most pleasantly, “No, I’ll just keep my next appointment.” And with that, he quietly left the room.
As I thought about the exchange over the next several hours, I felt a sense of awe that my lesson in nonjudgment came to me so clearly and that I paid attention. For once, I really got it! The amazing part for me was that as soon as I shifted my consciousness, the conversation took a dramatic turn!
This incident was a valuable lesson. It was important for me to be shown firsthand how powerful my thoughts (and sometimes judgments) are. I discovered they can actually change the focus of a conversation. I needed to learn on a real heart level the significance of keeping an open mind about everything, and especially other people. I thank Mr. Flint for the opportunity to learn that lesson.