A couple weeks ago, some friends of ours at our church were telling us they had started the hunt to buy a house. It was the first house, and they dearly wanted something cozy, natural, and their own. At some point in our conversation one of them said something to the effect of, "We're at our wits end about our current living situation, please don't judge us for whatever we end up buying"At first it struck me as odd. This was such an exciting time for them, why would I judge them? Then I understood why he was saying it... If it was maybe a little bigger, or more expensive, or nicer than they would normally get, they were up against a slew of judgement. And I realized he had the right to say it to me. I am so prone to being judgmental.
So I started to list in my head of things I tend to judge people for...
- Being very physically attractive
- Not being physically attractive enough
- Dressing a certain way
- Shopping too much
- Working out too much
- Talking too much
- Being awkward
- Being aggressive
- Being afraid
- Buying nice things
- Not managing money well
- Having a lot of money
- Doing or believing something I disagree with
- Doing or believing something I wish I could do (but can't for one reason or another)
- Having a bad attitude
- Being too cheerful
As you can see, most of those things are ridiculous and contradictory. But somehow I manage to do it. I can look at one person who is absolutely losing their mind about how wonderful their life is and think, "Ugh, you make me want to puke rainbows". And then I can look at another person who is pessimistic and moody and think, "Ugh why do you have to hate everything!?"
So my first point against judgement is: it generally doesn't make logical sense.
Another thing I've realized over the course of my short life is that my judgement of a person is almost always completely wrong. And this is coming from a girl who really, really likes to be right and generally struggles with pride and admitting fault. This is an area where I've been proved wrong over and over again. I often make assumptions about what a person is like, why they are the way they are, why they make the decisions they make. And those assumptions frequently make me mad, or jealous, and they negatively color my view of that person. As soon as I talk more to the person or get to know them deeper my assumptions are either debunked or forgotten.
Second point against judgement: it's often a result of superficial knowledge, and as a result is frequently wrong
When I think about what being judgmental and making these assumptions does to me, it's pretty upsetting. It pushes me away from people, whether it is a close friend who has made a decision I don't understand or a new acquaintance who talks too much for my liking. My own judgement stands as a barrier between me and them. And I know exactly what judgement makes my heart feel. It feels fiery, frustrated, and a little bit sick.
Third point against judgement: it is opposite to the loving, open and compassionate person I want to be.
My favorite verse to hold to in the bible is the one where Jesus says,
"'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important [command], the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself'"-Matthew 22:37-39
But along with that I've been challenged by two other verses that speak specifically on judgement.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." Luke 6:37
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:1-3
Fourth point against judgement: Jesus says we should not.
That's a lot of points man! So I've been meaning to write this blog for a while for a couple reasons: to put into words my concrete reasons for being against judgement, and to commit to be better. I want to fight my judgmental nature somehow, though I'm not exactly sure how...suggestions would be helpful! Baby steps I've begun to take look like....
- If I am close with the person I've developed a certain judgement about, I will talk to them about it if I I find it to be serious enough (perhaps I seriously do disagree with something they've said or that they're doing) and find out why they've done the action in question. Often I come from a conversation like that feeling closer to them and feeling like I've gained a deeper insight into who they are. Even if they don't end up agreeing with my concerns, we've been able to communicate our mutual care for each other simply by putting our relationship higher than unsaid assumptions.
- I have to keep reminding myself that EVERYone comes from a different place, and that affects who they are and what they do. My judgement so often comes from a place of what I would or wouldn't do or what I have been taught or how I have been raised. As soon as I remember that a person could be doing something based on a huge set of personality traits, history, genetics, goals and dreams that are unknown and different to me...my assumptions quickly lose their footing.
- Just getting to know people. It's hard. But it seems to be the quickest fix to fight judgement.
So how are you doing in this struggle? What techniques have you tried to move from judgement to love?