J is for Judgy McJudgerpants

This is a post I've been delaying. I knew I needed to write it yet didn't really want to do it. Have you ever had those words in your head that you just had to get out but kept them bottled up instead? That's what this blog post feels like for me.

Why have I been so avoidant? Because ... Well ...

Disclaimer: I am a judgmental jerk. Not that I try to be, just happens. So when I write about being judgmental, I might as well be scribbling with a sharpie marker on a mirrored surface; that every time I look at my reflection I see these words superimposed over my face. Do not judge. Do not judge. Do not judge. Shame.

In a strange character reversal where my creativity plays the parental role to my will, my will like petulant child standing in the corner pouting and shouting, "No. I don't want to. You can't make me."

"Write," says creativity.
"Do I have to?" says will.
"You must," says creativity.
"What if I don't?" asks will.
"You will suffer," says creativity.
My mind is a scary place.

I have avoided writing about judgments so that I wouldn't have to take that long hard look at myself. Procrastinating what was only inevitable. J is the next letter in the alphabet, so I couldn't move forward until I finished this step. Now is the time.

If we're being honest, this season of my life is one where it's really easy to be judgmental. One could argue that my disposition would be fully justified, however I know it's not. The words that follow are me preaching to myself as much as they are anything else. When I said that I needed to write this post, I wasn't kidding.

This isn't the first time that I've written about being judgmental. And it's probably will not be the last. It is a perpetual problem among people. As long as humans walk the earth we will be in a constant state of judging and being judged.

One of the most recognizable passages from the Gospel of Matthew warns us to be careful about judging others. It opens with the verses that say "Don't judge others, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you."

This isn't an order, it's a promise. If we judge, we will be judged. But, like I mentioned the last time I wrote about this subject, it isn't a matter of if but when.

Call it karma, call it the golden rule, call it whatever you want. When my church covered this passage a few weeks ago, my pastor described it with the explanation that whatever you put out there, you will get back. The manner in which you judge others is the same as what is going to be used against you.

Or for you.

Realistically it could go either way. Not all judgment is bad. When you complement a stranger, you're providing them a positive judgment. When you choose to keep your kids away from hurtful situations, you're making judgments to protect them. When you're faced with a decision between two good options, it is a matter of judgment that leads you to the choice you ultimately make.

If we know that the matter of judgment is not a question of if we do it, but when, then we need to make extra effort to ensure we are judging others as positively as possible. To give others the benefit of the doubt. Set boundaries where appropriate. Protect when necessary. But always judge in the best light possible.

This process isn't easy for me. In fact, I probably get it wrong more often than I get right. Yet, it is something that I am making a conscious effort to do.

A few months ago,a friend spoke some wise words into my life. He said the things that annoy us most about others are generally something that we hate about ourselves. That before I complain how someone is manipulative, I must consider how I might also be manipulating others. Before I complain of those around me being selfish, I must examine my own self-centered ways.

The lesson is that we see our own faults in others. We expect more of them than we do ourselves. It's a wicked double standard. It echoes the parable from Matthew 18 where a servant begged forgiveness of an enormous debt but refused to show leniency in a minuscule loan that was owed to him.

This revamped perspective has revolutionized my understanding of what it means to be judgmental. That it is just me criticizing others for the worst parts of myself. It is me getting back what I put out there. It is me being judged in the way I judge others.

It is in that spirit that I am attempting to break away from my natural tendencies. Easy? Not at all. Worth it? Absolutely.

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