Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

***Spoiler alert - If you haven't had the chance to watch the new Peanuts Movie yet, you might not want to read today's devotion.  Okay, you've been warned!***

Unfortunately, Jason didn't have any work scheduled for Wednesday, which is a bad thing since he's paid by the hour.  Nevertheless, we decided to make the best of a bad situation.  We used the free movie tickets that Jason had received through the Blood Connection and went to see The Peanuts Movie (yep, my idea!).  It was a really cute movie, and believe it or not, I came away from it with several valuable lessons.

In the movie, a new kid moves to town, and that new kid just happens to be "the cute, little redhead."  (I love it already!)  Anyway, Charlie Brown falls madly in love with this new cutie, but he's afraid to even speak to her because he's convinced that everyone else hates him because he's such a clutz.  Still, Charlie Brown clings to one thread of hope:  the new girl has never met him and never witnessed some of his "finer moments."  He hopes to win her over with his newfound confidence and charm, but in the spirit of Peanuts, things go horribly wrong.

Attempt after attempt, Charlie Brown tries to impress the cute, little redhead, but all of his efforts seem to be an epic fail.  His talent show routine is ruined because he gives up his turn to help his sister, Sally, who is on the verge of tears after her own routine goes terribly wrong.  The book report that he spent all weekend working on is reduced to ribbons when the Red Baron airplane flies through it.  After finally catching a break and receiving grand recognition for his perfect score on the standardized testing at school, he realizes that there had been a grave mistake, and the test was not his.  After admitting the error in front of the entire school (including the cute, little redhead), he slumps over and shuffles out of the school house.

The next several scenes are filled with phrases like the following:

"No matter how hard I try, everyone still hates me."
"It seems as if the whole world is conspiring against me."
"I'm nothing but a self-conscious, wishy-washy failure."

But lo, and behold, at the end of the movie when it comes time for the students to choose summer pen pals, the cute, little redhead chooses Charlie Brown.  Delighted yet confused, Charlie Brown finally gathers enough courage to ask her why she chose such a loser to be her pen pal.  She calmly told him that when she looked at him, she didn't see a failure.  She saw a compassionate soul who sacrificed something in order to help another.  She saw someone who was brave enough to step out of his comfort zone and enter the class dance contest.  She saw someone who was honest enough to admit that he hadn't rightfully scored the perfect score on the testing.  In short, she saw a good person.

Suddenly, all of the other children realize what they had been missing.  For so long they had been focusing on Charlie Brown's many mistakes that they had failed to realize what a good person he is.  Aren't we guilty of doing the same?  How often have we judged people by their actions or inactions?  How many times have we thought less of someone because of their inadequacies or failures?  All the while, we may be missing out on the true nature of the person we're judging.

We all have bad days, and honestly, I know I've had days where I could say right along with Charlie Brown, "It seems as if the whole world is conspiring against me."  But bad days don't make me a bad person.  Sure, I may be ditzy at times.  Yes, I have a tendency to be accident-prone.  And yes, I've had my share of "Duh" moments.  But if you only focus on those, you'll miss out on the fact that I am a caring, compassionate, tender-hearted person who longs to serve Christ to the best of my ability.  No, I'm not perfect, but I'm trying, and I'm sure there are many others around me who feel the same way.

After ten years of writing, I can't believe I finally get to say this:  It's time for all of us to start acting like the cute, little redhead.  Look past the mistakes and shortcomings of others and observe their hearts and motives.  After all, isn't that what God does for us?  More often than not, I think we'll discover that we've been sorely misjudging the Charlie Browns in our lives.

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. - Romans 2:1