Do You Practice the Golden Rule? (Are You Sure?)

The gal perched in front of me droned on about the sad state of her life. She expressed her complaints not so much in words, but in whines.

She oozed negativity.

Honestly, the more she talked, the less I wanted to hear. I tried to excuse myself–politely, of course. That’s what civil people do when they want to look nice on the outside, but feel anything but nice on the inside.

I stood with a smile plastered on my face, in the hopes of making a graceful exit. (Don’t judge. You’ve done it, too.)

Suddenly, a question flashed across my mind:

What if this was you?

The thought came again.

What. If. This. Was. You?

The question rocked me. I knew the Holy Spirit sent me a direct message to let me know He had as much work to do in me, as He did in her.

I sat down and leaned in. I asked genuine questions. I listened to hear her unspoken whispers behind her spoken words.

I put myself in her shoes.

And you know what? The atmosphere shifted. As my hardened interior softened, her hardened exterior softened. She became less caustic when she sensed I became more compassionate.

This is the power of empathy, and the result of applying what Jesus taught: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12).

The Golden Rule is easy to live out with people who are, well…easy. Anyone can do that.

But the negative neighbor? Or the surly teenager? Or the insensitive in-law? Or the angry co-worker? Or the grumpy spouse?

That’s a whole different story. Right?

Unless we asked one question: what if this was me?

What if I was the grumpy spouse?

The negative neighbor?

The cranky co-worker?

The frustrated child? The moody teen? The snippy stranger?

Wouldn’t want someone to offer up a little grace? Wouldn’t want someone to look beyond the behavior they can see, to the struggle, hurt, or frustration hidden beneath?

My mother once told me the key to parenting is, “look at your child with the eyes of your heart.”

I’m fairly certain this is the key to all relationships—especially the difficult ones.

Only a heart can see what the eyes cannot.
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In the years since the fateful words flashed across my brain, I’ve asked myself the same question, again and again, with the same positive result.

What if this was me?

The question has given me patience with a child, compassion for my husband, and concern for countless others. Truthfully, I need to ask it more often than I do. Way more.

Sometimes, a relationship can change by asking one simple question.

What if this was me?

 Try it and let me know how it goes, will you?

 You are loved,


To find out more, you can follow Donna on Instagram @donnaajones. She would love to connect with you there! You can also listen to Donna’s podcast, “That’s Just What I Needed” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts, Podchaser, Stitcher, and more.