I have learned the hard way to mind my business, without judging who people are and what they do. I am more troubled by the lack of space being provided for the truth to unfold. Humans cannot seem to wait for or honor the truth. Instead, we make it up based on who we believe people should or should not be.
“Don’t judge me, but I like…” “Don’t judge me, but I just bought…” “Don’t judge me, but I am _____…” How often do we say hear this or even say something like it? Admittedly for me—quite often…too often. It appears that this may be the next adventure in healing. I was pondering this topic and then went to church this morning (10/23) and this was the subject matter for the sermon (based on Luke 18:9-14). The passage is one where Jesus is flipping the narrative (as was typical for him) of who is righteous and has a “pass” on judging others. Well, turns out the story highlights self righteousness and yes, that it is unacceptable to the Rabbi from Nazareth—and it turns out no one has a pass on judging others. One of the take aways from the sermon resonating with me is, “Love is more powerful than being right.” Dang. I've heard this phrased other ways but it packs a punch from the pulpit.
And then it’s time for the rubber to hit the road. I, like the minister in church today, enjoy being right. However, as I’ve gotten older and maybe a *little* wiser, I realize I enjoy friendships and connections. Yes, it’s true—and judging each other and the desire to be right gets in the way of authentic connection. Sure, that’s a no-brainer. How easy is this to practice in our daily routines? How often do you correct people on Internet forums or social media—or see others correcting people? Sure, we can’t participate in the “dumbing down of our nation,” but there is also a way to do it tactfully and without appearing arrogant or superior.
If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people's choices. If I feel good about my body, I don't go around making fun of other people's weight or appearance. We're hard on each other because we're using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.
As the quote from Brené Brown alludes to, it’s about recognizing where we may feel deficient or lacking. In order to fill that void we often feel the need to prove ourselves. When I get real about it, it’s about the deficiency from my childhood in relationship with my sibling. She was the shining star in academics. There was no way for me to compete with that level of genius. She was literally in a league of her own. I, on the other hand, landed in remedial reading groups, remedial math, and just about any other subject. I couldn’t keep up. In all honesty, I didn’t want to. It wasn’t worth it—I was never going to be at that level. After my experiences with family this summer, I realize that my emotional life was overflowing and I had no coping or processing skills—and that took up parts of my brain needed for learning and remembering things. I, too, was in a league of my own—but there was no one there to understand my issues and I couldn’t articulate them.
Fast-forward to when I gained enough confidence to excel at the collegiate level—I became the enemy. I had little patience for people who weren’t willing to put in the time or effort to finish the assignments. Fast-forward to when I was in graduate school…it was even worse. Again, who was there to lend a hand or some sage words of advice? (crickets) Yes, I had to go through some humbling in order to stop being my own worst enemy. I’ve also had to find forgiveness within the deepest reaches of my being so that I can get back to center. It’s been quite a journey to find balance. It will continue to be a journey. As the minister said today, “God’s love is big enough to bigger than our sins.” Thank heavens!! Ultimately, that’s what it comes down to—a recognition that there is a force greater than ourselves that loves us, forgives us, and wants us to share this with others. We can’t do that if our ability to judge others outweighs our ability to see the child of God before us. It’s our choice.