Many of you know that when our Serving Slovakia experience ended Kent and I took a train to Rome, where we met up with our wives, who had flown to Rome from Portland. I had been looking forward to our tour of Italy for a couple of reasons – I relished the opportunity to reconnect with my wife after two weeks apart, and I wanted to have “real” pizza.
While in Martin I saw a picture outside of a restaurant on the square. The picture was of a slice of pizza with, of all things, corn on it. Corn on pizza! That’s just not right! Some of you know that I was fairly vocal about the whole notion of corn on pizza, and more than a little judgmental of any people group who could do such a thing. I vowed then and there that I would not eat pizza in Slovakia, but would save myself for real, authentic pizza in Italy, the birthplace of the stuff. Obviously the Slovaks knew nothing about pizza. Why else would they put corn on it?
Fast forward to Italy. On our second or third night in Naples (the epicenter of the origin of pizza) we went to a local restaurant for the express purpose of eating real pizza. When I began skimming the pizza menu I was shocked to find a pizza with – you guessed it – corn! It was like a dagger to my heart. Here I had judged all of Slovakia for being so naive about pizza, and it turns out I was the naive one. Humbled, I ordered corn pizza. And it was delicious. Not only that, but several days later in Florence I had pizza again, this time with hot dogs on it. Also delicious. Who would have ever dreamed that in Italy, where pizza has its very roots, they would put things like corn and hot dogs on a pizza? Perhaps I don’t know as much as I thought I knew.
The lesson? Judge not… I thought I knew more than I actually knew, and I passed judgement on the Slovaks for what I perceived to be their lack of understanding of how to do pizza. I’m an American, after all, and aside from the Italians, nobody knows more about pizza than an American, right? What I interpreted to be a pizza abomination turned out to be a legitimate thing, sanctioned by the Italians – corn on pizza.
How often do I judge others for doing things differently than I perceive to be the right way? In what other areas of my life do I think I know more than I really know? It’s funny how God can use something as insignificant as pizza to open my eyes to a need for a significant change in my attitude. God pointed out to me that I need to accept others’ differences with grace and humility, rather than to pass judgement with an a air of superiority.
So, my apologies to all of Slovakia. It appears that your understanding of authentic pizza far surpasses mine. If the Italians say corn on pizza is OK, who am I to judge? Slovakia, I humbly confess that you were right, and I was wrong. Next time I am in Martin I will eat pizza with corn on it, and I will like it. Judge not…