When I was growing up, our church chorister, Clara, was a woman with perfect posture who wielded the baton with precision. She often stopped singing but expected the audience to continue. Her lips would disappear into a thin line. Her baton would make jerky stabs in the air.
We must not be singing right, I thought. She's mad at us. I thought her baton stabbing movements were personal. She wants to hurt us.
When I was asked to be the chorister--in my Junior year of high school--I thought if I did nothing more than look pleasant and actually sing with the audience I would be ahead of the game. Looking pleasant wasn't all that hard, it was the singing with the audience that was perplexing.
This was because of a problem I've suffered with all my life: "Mind Wandering Disease." I would start out okay and then, about the third or fourth verse I suddenly couldn't remember if it were the third or the fourth verse because I was thinking about boys. There I was, the great musical leader, not knowing what words to sing.
Luckily there was a man in the audience who was a great enunciator. I, even with my feeble mind-wandering brain, could read his lips. He sat on the left side of the middle row, four rows up from the back. When I got in trouble I would immediately find him and then I'd know what verse we were on. Because of this man, I avoided ending the song after the third verse or expecting another verse after the last one.
It hadn't occurred to me until this very minute that maybe Clara--with all her thin-lipped behavior--may not have been mad at us at all. Maybe she lost track of what verse we were on too. Too bad she didn't have my secret weapon, the man four rows up from the back.
Which leads me to this conclusion: Do not judge.
And, as an added bonus: Don't assume other people are judging you. Their behavior may be a product of their having lost their way.
And one more thing: Be grateful for other people. That man never knew what a blessing he was to me. I should have told him. I can't even remember his name and yet he was an important part of my Sundays for two mind-wandering years.