I was slammed with people’s opinions this week. I encountered hints of prejudice based on ethnicity; I was corrected about many things and left wondering why many people find it so easy to correct me instead of others; and then I was hard on myself by saying, “If you could have said or done that better, why didn’t you? What a wasted opportunity.” The capstone to my week arrived in a bizarre fashion.
I was at our busy intersection when the sound of screeching tires grabbed my attention. I saw a lady who had nearly run a red light. She caught herself in time and was reversing back into her lane. The driver to my right was shaking his head and I could almost hear him saying, “Crazy woman driver!” My initial reaction was to think, “How could she do something that stupid?” but then I stopped myself and pondered why everyone is so free with their opinions. We only judge because at that moment we’re not doing the same thing as the one receiving our judgement. “But for the grace of God am I.” Less than 3 minutes later I almost ran a red light myself, though certainly not on purpose, and I knew exactly what it felt like to be in her shoes.
I believe we only judge to make ourselves feel better. I am hard on myself when I don’t succeed in perfection and thus my reflex is to find imperfections in others to prove that I must be doing something right since I’m not making their mistakes. However, the satisfaction in that is only temporary. Not long ago I was making a deposit at the bank and there was an elderly homeless man sitting on the curb. He would stop the occasional passerby and ask them for money, but he never asked me for anything. In my car I had a gigantic Swiss chocolate bar and I gave it to him. He said, “Food, Sistah! Mahalo!” and he reached out to grip my hand. In that moment I knew I was standing in the footprints of Jesus and there is nothing more fulfilling than that.
The next time you make a move to correct or condemn someone, in your heart or with your mouth, stop and consider what life is like in their shoes at that moment. Will your judgement be uplifting and help them to move ahead or will it only serve to weigh them down further? We all repeatedly make mistakes and for many of them we have no excuse, other than that we’re human. Yet in the moments when we’re thinking clearly, let’s choose to do the right thing.
Thank you for writing this, Shelby. I find myself learning that very lesson every so often. I love refresher courses because they always give us a little more insight than the time before. If you think about it – so much of Christ’s teachings are about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes – I think if we do that more often it will surely cut back on the judging so many people feel they receive by Christians. We don’t have to condone the decisions, but we also shouldn’t stand in judgment of them.
I am glad that this is a helpful reminder to you. It was a convicting one for me to write and I hope I will not be too quick to forget about it. We have all been on both sides of the judging.
This is a powerful one. Everyone has been on both sides of it. The judger and the judged. I believe Jesus desires His people to respond with compassion. He had never done anything wrong, yet because of His love for us and remembering why He was here..He responded with compassion to the floundering world. In the past several weeks i have been trying to do this more faithfully. I hope I will continue to move in this direction. It feels better inside my heart than the alternative. The endless speculation, judging critically, self-righteously…just never leaves more than an uneasiness inside because it is so Un-Christ-like…when I do it I am not remembering my assignment…follow Him, My Leader, do likewise. Aloha!
Really good points. I am sure this is something we will have to practice over and over and over again.
Yes, over and over while we are on this earthly journey. But I do hope there will be progress as we trek up the mountain! 🙂