Lay the hammer down and look within

By Brenda Hopf

Connecting Faith and Life

I recently came across a quote that was not attributed to a particular author. I believe, if the truth be told, any one of us could sign our name as the author. The quote went something like this: “No matter how big the hammer, you cannot pound stupid out of stupid people.” 

At first, we might laugh lightheartedly at this quote or perhaps even think how rude it is to say such a thing.  But let’s be honest. Even if we have not said this out loud, and for the most part have done our best to be respectful of others, most of us have had this thought cross our minds more than once. While we know to grab a hammer “to pound stupid out of stupid people” is not reasonable, we’ve all held that hammer in our mind at one time or another, striking others with our thoughts.

I’ll admit similar thoughts to the above quote have crossed my mind on more than one occasion. Allow me to share one recent experience in which the same driver error occurred twice within days at two different locations. Both times I was in the left turn lane, and the other driver was in the right turn lane, both lanes were marked very clearly. One was at a four-way stop, and the other was an interstate exit. Each time I was careful to make sure it was my turn to go. I was not overly concerned about the person in the right turn lane who would be going the opposite direction. But wouldn’t you know it, just as I started to pull from my stopped position to turn left, the person to my right suddenly decided to turn left also. I was able to stop and avoid an accident in both cases, but the hammer struck as I questioned the other driver’s intelligence. 

After the second incident, I could not help but feel God was trying to get my attention. I was certain he was calling me to take a deeper dive into what had occurred. I got the distinct feeling that I needed to look within.

St. Paul tells us in Romans 2:1, “Do you, my friend, pass judgment on others? You have no excuse at all, whoever you are. For when you judge others and then do the same things which they do, you condemn yourself” (Good News Translation).

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. When I point to what I perceive to be someone else’s stupidity, I am in fact condemning myself, and rightfully so. I can see more clearly now that I have a bit of work to do. I have been discerning the best way to lay the hammer down and look within so that I am not so tempted to strike with my thoughts. What if I just simply begin by striving to love others as Jesus has taught us to love? Maybe I could express that love through prayer. I think that is a good place for me to start.

Saint Paul continues in Romans 2:4, “Surely you know God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent” (Good News Translation).

I invite you all to join me as we call upon the Holy Spirit to help us repent; to repent especially of judging others for what we perceive to be their stupidity. Rather than judge and condemn, let’s lay down the hammer and lift one another up in loving prayer. Our country, and in fact, the whole world needs a facelift filled with love and prayer; and it might as well start right here in southern Indiana with you and me. Let’s do it!

Brenda Hopf is a member of Divine Mercy Parish in Dubois County and also contributes to the “Sharing the Load” column in The Message.