Try this. When you get up in the morning, tell yourself that you “will not judge a single person today” and then see how it goes. If you are lucky, and if you don’t look at your TV, IPAD, or smartphone, you might make it an hour.
To live by the teaching, “do not judge” presents us with an apparent exercise in futility. It just doesn’t seem possible. We see what people wear, what they drive, where they live, how they handle their children at the HEB, how they look; and we make judgment calls. This is especially true when we look at the people around us and begin comparing them to ourselves.
Not judging is hard. Seemingly impossible. How does one do this? Can one do this?
I do not want to diminish the teaching “do not judge”, and, I believe that you and I can actually keep from doing it sometimes. It’s not impossible. It’s just hard. Really hard.
Try this next time and see how it goes. Let’s say that I am fully aware that I am unfairly judging someone in the grocery store because their kids are going haywire while, at the same time, mine is squarely in “perfect angel mode.” I immediately begin attaching the labels; “bad parent”, “clueless”, “out of control”.
What will I do with those thoughts/ judgments? Will I act on them? Will I sneer, maybe shake my head when I walk by, maybe tell my friend the next aisle over about the “horror” I saw? Secretly shoot a video on my iPhone and then post it on Facebook? Or, will I, despite my thoughts, show compassion? Maybe a smile. Maybe a, “trust me I get it”, which, are golden words to someone having difficulties with children in public.
What will I do with my thoughts?
This is a good first step when we think about trying not to judge others. Will I treat them as different then me? Inferior to me? Worse off than me? Or, will I treat them as my equal, as someone deserving of my attention and compassion? We all have our moments, that’s for sure. Kids going crazy in the shopping basket. Clothes that don’t match. Being the only one who showed up without a gift when the invitation clearly stated that you should. In other words, we have all had our share of “ripe for judgment” moments.
Remember when someone showed you compassion, grace, and understanding? Remember when they said, “it’s OK, happens to me all the time?” You never forgot it did you? There’s a reason why. Because compassion and understanding are priceless gifts, most especially in “ripe for judgment” moments. Sooner or later, we will judge. What will we do with that?
Remember that time…
Fr. Mike Besson
Rector of St. Catherine of Sienna Episcopal Church