Seems pretty unfair. We are told not to judge and yet no matter what we do, others will judge us. I’d like to continue with yesterdays topic about being judged but we will also flip that coin and talk about being the ones who are judging. (When I talk about judging, I’m talking about having a critical spirit. This is not the same as being discerning. Maybe that will be a topic for another day.)
Do you have an area in your life that you feel God is just being a pit-bull about? He’s not letting go…he’s digging in deep and you have no choice but to take notice? It’s not always comfortable when he does that, but it’s always for our good. This area of judging is that for me. I struggle more with the idea of being judged than I do with judging but they are connected. Since he’s started working on this area in my life, I’ve tried to pay much closer attention to my thoughts and how they affect me.
Almost every time I leave my house now, I ask God to help me just be me. Not the me I think people want me to be..but the real me. The one he made me to be. I’m talking about not wearing those masks that we talked about yesterday. I think we’ve all worn them at times. We want to be liked so we may adjust how we act or what we say to fit the person that we are with. And that’s fine if you’re still sincerely being who you are. But most of the time, we are not. We are putting up a false front that we think will be more acceptable, more normal. Thing is we all become a boring vanilla when we do that.
Think of the people that you are most drawn to. Often they are the ones that have the courage to really be themselves…to not care what others think of them. And in the upside-down way that things often happen, they are more accepted because of how different they are. Why? Because they are a breath of fresh air. They are not settling for vanilla. They are mocha cappuccino fudge swirl and they are good with that.
And whether or not others judge you, guess what? You’re not supposed to be judging them. As I have been listening to my thoughts lately, I’ve been censoring myself. I have an opportunity to judge people a ridiculous number of times per day and I can do it without ever opening my mouth. I think, “Oh my gosh, what is she wearing?” “I can’t believe she let her kid speak to her that way.” “Can he really afford that new car?” And on and on it can go if unchecked. Having a critical spirit makes you grumpy, dissatisfied and it steals your joy. It makes you suspicious of others and because you see yourself thru the same lens you use on others you become hyper-critical of yourself as well.
I have two words for you: STOP IT. Seriously, you can’t control what others think of you but you can control your own thoughts. You can choose to be generous in your thoughts toward others. If someone is wearing something you find odd, say to yourself, “I admire her individuality.” If someone is parenting in a way you wouldn’t, give her the benefit of the doubt and maybe say a quick prayer for her. You will be surprised how freeing it is do start taking control of your thoughts. (2 Cor. 10:5)
I’m not going to say that if you stop judging others, they’ll stop judging you. They won’t…not unless God teaches them the same lesson. So you just have to get comfortable knowing that others are judging you and not care.
I remember before I had children, thinking how I would do things so differently that the parents I saw around me. (Remember being so judgmental before you actually had kids?) I would see a mom riding in the back seat with an infant while dad drove the car and I’d think, “That’s ridiculous. I’ll never do that. She should be up front with her husband.” Right. Never say never. There were days when I would have sat on the roof if it would have made my little one stop crying in the car-seat. It didn’t take me long into the journey of parenthood to realize that I’d been way too judgmental and to recognize the judgmental looks from others now directed at me. I would sigh to myself and think, “Yeah, I used to be like you. So sure I knew it all. Just wait.”
It’s all about perspective. I remember hearing this story one day of a crowded city bus-ride. “A man sat down next to me on my afternoon commute. He had four children with him who dispersed to other empty seats but he wasn’t paying them much mind. I could see one of his boys jumping on a seat, two rows down. I could hear the others behind us making way too much noise. He didn’t flinch…just looked straight ahead. The other passengers quickly grew agitated and began looking at me, silently electing me to be the one to say something. So finally, I said, “Excuse me, sir. Your kids need your attention.” He blinked his glazed eyes and seemed to wake up from an internal sleep. “Oh,” he said, “I’m so sorry. We’ve just come from the hospital. My wife just passed away.”
He said this loud enough for most to hear it and in a moment, everything changed. The judgmental looks changed to ones of compassion. I put my arm around him and told him I was so sorry for his loss, while the passengers around me began engaging the children, reading them stories or offering them snacks. No one on that bus will forget that day. With one sentence everything changed even though nothing had changed but perspective.”
Perspective is the key. And we don’t always have enough facts to have the right perspective so it’s best to err on the side of grace rather than judgement. I’m asking for God’s help every day to conquer this issue. Want to join me?
If so, my challenge for you today is twofold. Ask God to help you with these because he is way stronger than we are:
- Stop judging others. It’s not your place. You don’t have all the facts anyway.
- Stop caring if others are judging you. You can’t stop them anyway so choose not to care. Even smile about it knowing that one day they may learn the same lesson God is teaching you now.
Leave a comment, let me know how your day goes!