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A couple weekends ago, my son and I tackled the oh-so-lovely job of cleaning the gutters on our house, followed by the much more pleasant task of hanging Christmas lights. (For those of you new to my blog, I love Christmas. Our house and deck are completely encircled by blue icicle lights, and I have three Christmas trees. Well, last time I checked there were three. But I also have two cats intent on destroying said trees, and since I’m at my daycare right now, those trees might not be standing at the moment.)

Anyway, back to the gutters. I took the back side of the house (which gets the most sun during the day–that’s important to note, so hang on to that little fact), and Kyle started cleaning the gutters on the front of the house. Because of the way our house is built into the side of a hill, it’s easier to forego a ladder, and just climb up on the roof. I worked on my side of the roof, throwing leaves and debris out of the gutters like a mad woman intent on getting her lights hung by dark.

With the task nearly completed, I decided to check on Kyle’s progress. I scrambled over the roof to find that he hadn’t even finished cleaning the gutters over the garage, much less the rest of the house.

“What’s taking so long? We’ve only got a little bit of daylight left.”

“My hands are freezing! Aren’t yours? I can barely get the junk and leaves out of the gutters!”

I’ll go ahead and tell you now that I was a bit put out. Sure, my hands were kinda cold–the leaves were wet, after all–but it really wasn’t THAT BAD, and I told him so. In fact, I may have played the “your mum is tougher that you” card.

Until I started helping him with the gutters on his side. There was a reason his hands were freezing.

Because ice is cold.

He wasn’t cleaning wet leaves out of the gutters. He was cleaning large chunks of ice, mixed with a year’s worth of leaves and debris.

I quickly changed my tune.

“Wow, this IS cold! In fact, I don’t know how you got this far without better gloves.”

It’s very easy to pass judgment on those around us, especially when we’ve never experienced what they are going through.

And although Christmas can be a time of goodwill and cheer, it can also be a time when we get caught in the comparison trap. This can lead to judging others when we don’t know the full story behind their actions.

“Wow, I stayed up until midnight making Christmas cookies for this party, and she couldn’t even be bothered to let me know she wasn’t coming!”

“We saved for months to buy presents for their kids, and they gave our kids THOSE cheap toys?”

“I slaved for hours on this angel costume, and now she tells me my child is standing in the back row????”

The next time you’re tempted to make a snap judgment, slow down and rein in those thoughts. Realize you don’t see all that is going on in another person’s life.

Although it may look like smooth sailing from the outside, you never truly know what they are facing.

Their gutters may be harder to clean than yours.

“And as you would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” (Luke 6:31)