Perils of People Watching

The other night, my hobby of people watching brought out the ugly in me. Maybe because I’m a writer with a big imagination, I like to spy and figure out what might be going on in other people’s lives. I study mannerisms, reactions, and outfits. I’ll think things like…

He’s watching football and not listening to a word she’s saying. Now she’s texting. She looks mad. He’s gnawing on hot wings. Maybe she wants a baby and he doesn’t.

Restaurants and malls are great for people watching.



So last week, my husband and I went out for pizza. (Incredible gluten-free pizza from Your Pie.)

I spotted a group of college-age girls. Boots tucked in designer jeans. Long sweaters down to their hips. I tried to create a storyline but they were chitty-chatting way too loud about nothing.

Wish I could say I came up with sweet scenarios.

But I didn’t.

In my heart, I moved past observing.

I judged them.

It happened so quickly. Less than 30 seconds. Mean thoughts…

You’re not all that funny. Do you have to be so loud? You’re just trying to get attention.

And then guess what…

Their pizza came and the girl with shimmery blonde hair said the blessing. It wasn’t a hurry-up-let’s-eat kind of blessing.

She prayed passionately. Honestly. Not for show. 

They even shut their eyes.

I wanted to crawl under the table. Ahhhhhhhh! They’re talking to You, Lord. Like I should’ve been doing instead of judging. Forgive me.

I was wrong. Way wrong.

After she prayed, she looked right at me and smiled.

I smiled back. From my heart. I’m so sorry.

I’m adding “people praying” to my “people watching” hobby.

Have you ever done what I did? Pleeeease, someone say yes…



 *above photo





  1. Yes! But like you, the older I get the more times I’ve seen how wrong I am to judge and although it’s a temptation, I love your suggestion of People Praying while People Watching…that will certainly defuse that flicker of judgement in me.

  2. Yes, Yes, a million times, YES! I have the habit of meeting someone and rating them as potential friends. Sometimes it’s because I don’t think I’ll like them, and sometimes it’s because I don’t think they’ll like me. Stopping my instant filter is definitely a prayer of mine. God is teaching me, as some of my best friends are those I initially blew off in my mind.

    • Marie, what you just said is beautiful. Wonder if it’s something only we women do? Can’t imagine my husband thinking through this process, but I’ve done it. And wow, is God working on my heart about it.

      THANK YOU.

  3. Mary Wilkins says:

    Me too! I love to people-watch. I’m never bored when waiting for trains or planes. And now that I’m so hard of hearing, I’m acutely aware of how loudly folks talk in public. My hearing aids amplify everything so much that it can become overwhelming. On the other hand, I worry that I’m speaking too loudly when I’m in public. Hard to gauge with my disability. If I speak loudly enough so my companion can hear me, it’s probably louder than it ought to be for the comfort of the others in the room. And when we are home, my husband and I drive each other crazy either shouting (if we aren’t wearing our hearing aids) or speaking too softly if one has his in and the other doesn’t. I need a sign on my forehead that says “I’m off the air”.

    • Mary, it’s incredible to read a comment that begins with “me too!” That’s why I write. To connect with others–to help us all not feel so alone–probably to tell myself, “See, you’re not all THAT strange.” 🙂

      Loved your words, my friend. You gotta send me a picture of yourself if you start wearing a sign on your forehead. 🙂

  4. Got me! My wife says I am the world’s 31people watcher and I don’t think this was a positive #1:) I too project way to much of my own understanding and yes judgment at times. GREAT lesson here and I love the new direction of People Praying. Praying over others and trusting God for the judgement. Powerful Julie, thank you! You certainly are NOT alone:)

    • Thanks, Tom. 🙂 🙂 Yep, I’m pretty sure that people praying prevents people judging. I’m going to test it out!!

  5. People praying. What a great idea, Julie! I’m going to have to try that., as I think we are all guilty of judging people just by looking at them.

    • I know, Eileen!! I’m so excited about PP. Let me know how it goes. I have a really good feeling we’re on to something.

  6. Oh my, Julie. What a powerful post and reminder. I’ll admit honestly and with shame, I’ve done the same thing. It’s so easy to be quick to judge. God is reminding me to be very careful how I think and what I say. I need to always remember, He created people. And those are His children. And when we talk bad (or think bad thoughts) about His children, our Heavenly Father doesn’t take that lightly. 🙁

    • Amen, Lisa. HE created people! They, we, everyone is HIS creation. You’re exactly right. Love you, my friend. Thanks for making a wonderful point…hadn’t thought of it from that angle.

      You’re so right.

  7. Mary Alice says:

    Julie, I can’t deny I’m guilty. I love people watching. I love to write and professionally I’m a social worker, so observing people is something I derive great understanding and pleasure in doing. However, I have looked and judged quickly more times than I’d care to talk about. This nugget of wisdom God passed through you is wonderful correction & guidance. So glad you shared it with us. 🙂

    • Oh Mary Alice, thank you for your honesty. And part of your training, I’m sure, is to access someone by things like….behavior, appearance, speech, etch. Sounds like God’s blessed you with amazing emotional intelligence for His Glory.

      Thank you so much for writing. Love, love, love it when something I write connects. XO

  8. Dana Pratola says:

    Yup. I bet we’ve all done it. Thanks for your openness =-)

  9. New hobby for this year: People-Praying — awesome suggestion, Julie!

    I have an oft too-critical heart (becauseI’malwaysright) that does impose judgment at first contact. I need to see the world through “Jesus-colored” glasses. After all, if He loved them enough to die for them; shouldn’t I love them as well?

    • These comments are making me so happy. New hobbies for all of us!! PP!!

      Hugging you from Georgia, Melody–“because I’m always right..” Loved that.

      Amen, He loved us all enough to die. And Jesus-colored glasses. Beautiful. I’m putting mine on today.

      Thank you, my friend.

  10. Shelley Elaine says:

    Oh my, “Yes!”…regrettably. Love your suggestion to watch and pray for others rather than observe and judge them.

    • Shelley, I’m just relieved to read I’m not the only one. And we’re gonna have a group of us now starting to pray as our hearts move us…rather than judge.

      Thank you so much for letting me know you “get” it. I had a feeling I might be the only one. :-/

  11. Sandra Walker says:

    Yes, Julie, I’m guilty, too. Even had it happen just like you – in a restaurant and then you seen them bow their heads! Several years ago the Lord taught a\me the lesson that people are made in His image.
    We have been working on my heart for a while now (to have a heart like His). He reminds me when I
    stumble and start to be critical that they are made in His image. Stops you cold! I can tell you! Have
    prayed for them on occasion but haven’t thought about doing that on a consistent basis. I will join in PP! Cool idea!

    • Yay, Sandra!! Another friend doing the PP idea. Tell me how it goes. Can’t wait to hear.

      And you’re so right. We’re made in His image. Every single one of us.

      Great big hug to you!!

  12. Yes! LOVE People-Praying. So I’m praying for you and for me right now!

  13. If we’re honest, I think we’ll all have to answer yes to that question. But like someone else said, I do believe the older I get, the less inclined I am to jump to conclusions. (Although I CERTAINLY CANNOT SAY I DON’T DO IT ANYMORE!)

    Thank you for the reminder, Julie. I needed it today. 🙂

    Love your tender heart!

  14. Vonda, your capital letters totally made my day. 🙂 LOVED THE MESSAGE.

  15. Leigh Anne says:

    Yes. I am afraid to say I am guilty! Great idea to PP and not PW. Change our thoughts, Lord- I think you wrote about that just the other day. Sooo good to be reminded of this.

    • Whew, whew, whew, Leigh Anne. Makes me feel so good not to be the only one who does this. 🙂 Thank you, thank you for chiming in.

      XO…and see you soon!

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