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The Cookie Parable Can Help Us Remember to Avoid Making Incorrect Assumptions

The Cookie Parable Can Help Us Remember to Avoid Making Incorrect Assumptions

Sister Peggy S. Worthen, the wife of BYU President Kevin J. Worthen started a talk during a BYU devotional with a story about cookies

A woman bought some cookies at an airport shop and sat down to eat them. She sat next to a man and started reading a book. 

While she was engrossed in her book, she happened to see that the man sitting beside her boldly grabbed a cookie from the cookie bag and began to eat it. The woman was shocked at this brazen act, but she chose to ignore the incident to avoid a scene.

However, to ward off any additional misbehavior, she grabbed one of the cookies from the bag and began munching on it as she went back to her book. Much to her horror, she noticed that the man took some more cookies from the bag and started munching them.

In response, she grabbed another cookie and dramatically put it into her mouth. The man then took another cookie and put it into his mouth. She responded in kind, as did he. Every time she took a cookie from the bag, he took one. When the last cookie was left, the man nervously took that cookie and broke it in half. He offered the other half to the lady and smiled. Irritated, and definitely not smiling, the lady snatched the other half of the cookie from him, popped it into her mouth, and thought, “This guy has some nerve that even after eating a half bag of my cookies, he didn’t even say thank you.”

She had been so galled by the man that she was relieved when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate. She boarded the plane and sat in her seat to read her book. She reached her hand into her bag and was surprised to find a bag full of cookies. 

Suddenly her countenance changed from anger to wonder to embarrassment. “If my cookies are here,” she realized, the other bag from which she had been eating must have belonged to the man. He was not stealing her cookies. He was sharing his.  She was filled with a feeling of guilt and regret for her mistaken judgment (Brackets and italics removed).

Many of us may have had similar experiences, where we have judged someone harshly, without all the relevant facts, or judged someone improperly, based on incorrect information.

Three Suggestions for Proper Judgment

Sister Worthen gave 3 suggestions to combat improper judgment. 

First, because it is easy to judge incorrectly, we shouldn’t immediately assume “bad intent,” when we see behavior we take to be improper.  

Second, when we misjudge, we need to remember we are imperfect. We should hope to do better in the future.

Third, we need to focus on Jesus Christ, who will help us “avoid misunderstandings and incorrect judgments.” He can help us “overcome all our mistakes and weaknesses.”

As we think about this woman’s experience with the cookies, we can remember to not assume bad intent, remember our imperfections, and remember that Christ can help us improve ourselves so that we can judge righteously in the future.