Hi. I’m Chrisy, and I have a problem. I spend my evenings the weeks leading up to Christmas judging Christmas lights.

No one has asked me to, I just do it.

Some people do a wonderful job – lights of the same color, no flashing, tastefully done.

Others? Well, not so much. They mix colors. Different strands flash at different times. They go overboard on lights, displays, lawn ornaments, etc. What my son has deemed “over decorated.”

Why do I do this? I don’t know. I always have. Ask my high school friends. I used to comment about Christmas lights all the time. When they were put up too early (before Thanksgiving), kept up too long (past January 6), or not done “well,” I always had a comment. My personal opinion about someone else’s choice in Christmas light decor.

Is there anything wrong with doing that? Not necessarily. I do it in good fun with my family and one of my good friends. I’m not knocking on doors and telling people who their lighting choices need help. It’s something that for some reason I notice and at times comment on.

And yet, as I think about it, I wonder if that is how we are about people more often than not. When we see something we don’t “like” or something that doesn’t fit our definition of “right,” do we make snap judgments about those people? Are we quick to notice what we don’t like, and not so quick to look beyond what we see?

Is that what happened to Mary, this woman, pledged to be married to Joseph, who ended up pregnant before the wedding? What kinds of judgments were made about her? We know that her own betrothed planned to divorce her quietly after he found out, right up until an angel visited him in a dream. What did her parents think? Her close relatives? Her neighbors?

We all know that we are told not to judge, lest we be judged. And if you are like me, you try hard not to judge people. But it is hard. We all have our ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and it is really hard not to hold others up to the impossible standards that we have set for ourselves and the rest of the world. But the reality is this, we don’t know the whole story. We don’t know where God is at work in ways we can’t see. We don’t know what people have been through to bring them to the place they are at this point in their lives. We don’t know their daily struggles, or their past hurts, or what they are facing tomorrow.

So, as I drive around looking at Christmas lights this year, I will try to remember that I don’t know everything. There may be deeper stories about why some people decorate they way they do. And as I walk through the grocery store, I will work hard to look beyond what I can see when I look at the people around me. Because God loves them. God has a plan for them. Just like he loves me and has a plan for me.

What are you thoughts on Christmas light strategies? Simple and understated or over the top?