Sep 22, 2016

Who Am I to Judge?

“I can imagine myself reading a story like that about someone else & disbelieving it. That’s what people do: They imagine themselves in your place, and they know that they would have done different, better. They scare themselves a little with borrowed tragedy, and then retreat to the safety of their own safe place.”  - Every Last One, Anna Quindlen

I love this quote from a book I read eons ago. I love anything that speaks the truth, regardless of whether it’s hard to accept or not. And most truth is just that, isn’t it? Hard to accept? After all, they don’t call it a bitter pill for nothing…

This truth, however, is especially accurate. It almost pains me to say it, but we (and by we, I mean you AND me) find great pleasure in slipping our dainty and pedicured feet into other people’s well-worn shoes, because from that viewpoint, from that perspective, we can criticize ‘til we’re blue in the face about all the things we would have done differently – if we were them. We stand there with our head held high, our hands on our hips and head cocked to the side, with our all-knowing attitude spilling out all around us. We claim that we would never make the same choices, the same bad decisions, because we know the consequences. Didn’t you THINK about what you were doing, we say? Maybe we aren’t bold enough to speak those words out loud, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t forming them in our minds. And then, as the quote above chides us, we retreat to the safety of our own little lives, back to our own, perfect little perch.  

So tell me - why is it easier to judge from the soles of another’s shoes than it is from our own?
{{Before I go any further, let me just say this. We will always be a judgmental people, to some extent. Why? Because not one of us is perfect or without blame as much as we might claim to be. There is only One who is perfect, and He mercifully and lovingly sent His Son to live and walk on this earth, to be ridiculed and mocked, and then to be savagely beaten and left to die on a cross. A cross that was made for us, but HE took it upon himself. There is only One who is Holy and Blameless (deserving of a capital “H” and of a capital “B”, don’t you agree?). And that One is not us.}}

Maybe we place judgment on others so as not to place judgment on our own lives. We use a magnifying glass to point out the smallest of snags in the fabric of our peers, yet choose to ignore how unraveled we really are.  Maybe it’s easier to mentally assimilate how we would solve the problems of everyone else rather than look deep-into, and give loving-attention, to our own.

Earlier this year, I was asked to give a talk on the subject of ‘Grace’ at a retreat weekend I attended and I was elated because this particular topic is one I’m most passionate about. I’ve found that it’s difficult to recognize grace in the middle of the confusion, the place where it's messiest, but if you look back in the light of God’s grace, you really can see it everywhere. And through the gift of grace, I discovered the gift of compassion; the compassion to step into someone else’s shoes and say, I understand why you might have made the choices you did, or in one of the most sincere acts of kindness, You deserve another chance.  

Compassion softens the harshest of hearts and allows others to be vulnerable to make mistakes, just as we do. Some mistakes are miniscule and some are monumental. But no matter, we should always strive to leave wearing the shoes we came with.  

After all, they’re the only ones that will ever fit. 

1 comment:

  1. I rememeber a line from The Best Yes, there is more than one good choice and God will work all of our choices for good when they're made with a heart to please Him. That's not a direct quote so much as a synopsis. This helps me so much when I'm faced with a decision I have to make & I'm not seeing clear direction, but I know hindsight or someone else judging me will have the "right" answer.