See Friends – Not Habits!

(My best friend ate erasers.)

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington and Kristen W., high school student

Wrongly judging people is a problem that is very common, especially in high school. There are many temptations to judge people based on the way they look, how much they weigh, how much money they have, or even the funny little habits that they might have. I had an interesting experience when I was younger that has helped me look past those sorts of things and see the person God made. It really made a difference in the way I look at people. And it helped me find a best friend.

When I was in second grade, I was like a lot of second graders: I thought I was right, and I didn't care what anyone else thought. Well, one day a new girl started in our class. I disliked her from the start. She had a very odd habit of eating everything that came her way. You name it -- pencils, erasers, paper -- it all went into her mouth!

But for some strange reason she liked me. The teacher put her desk next to mine. I did my best to scoot as far away from her as possible, but that didn't work because she would just scoot closer. She followed me everywhere chanting my name. She even joined our lunch table with what I thought were rather disgusting habits.

During recess, she also really wanted me to go play on the monkey bars. There was no way I was going to do that. First, I didn't like her and didn't want to play with her. But second, I was afraid of heights. Usually, I would play with my other friend on the safe ground while the new girl would go off by herself to the monkey bars. But she kept bothering me, and it really became a problem.

So, one day I decided to just go on the monkey bars with her. I thought that if I played with her just once, she would stop pestering me. I let my annoyance get stronger than my fear of heights. So off I went to the monkey bars -- annoyed and scared. I ended up having the best time. The new girl was so sweet and encouraging that I wasn't all that scared about climbing on the monkey bars.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. We became best friends after that. We hung out all the time and climbed on whatever could get us more than a foot off the ground. She also gradually dropped her poor eating habits. It was great! From this experience, I learned to love others without judging them by their habits or looks.

Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan teaches a similar idea (Luke 10:30-37). In it, Jesus describes a man that was beaten by thieves and left for dead. Two Jewish religious men passed by the injured man without helping him. But a Samaritan man did help the hurt man. The Jews in Jesus' time didn't like Samaritans at all. But in Jesus' story, the Samaritan was the most helpful and caring towards the injured man, even providing him with a place to stay while he recovered.

Judging someone wrongly is a common temptation, especially in high school. But before you decide that a person who looks a little odd or has some funny habits isn't worth being friends with, you might want to think twice. You don't want to miss out on a friendship that will bless you.