Ever since I was a kid, I've always been really good at judging people.
Like really, really good at it.
I could tell you exactly how you should live your life (at least in my head).
And how you were causing all sorts of problems for yourself by the bad choices you were making.
You might have nicknamed me "Self-righteous Sara."
It's something I've been working on changing about myself for years.
And I'm getting better.
Better at letting go of judgement.
The thing is,
when we judge others--
by gossiping about them,
thinking negatively about them,
or even giving them unsolicited advice straight to their face,
it makes it harder for us not to judge ourselves as well.
I don't know about you, but I really appreciate it when people give me the benefit of the doubt.
Especially when those "people" include me giving me the benefit of the doubt.
I've got enough weaknesses of my own--I don't particularly have room in my life to point out all the weaknesses of others.
So does this mean I don't make any judgement calls at all?
That I just live my life with a plastic smile on my face and not take a stand on anything?
It doesn't mean that at all.
But it does mean that it's not up to me to decide how other people should live their lives.
Those "other people" include:
even our spouses.
I believe that people are doing the best they can.
Sometimes their best is pretty craptastic.
Sometimes my best is pretty craptastic, too.
I believe wholeheartedly that we have all have the power within us to make our lives whatever we want them to be,
but I have NO IDEA how YOU should live YOUR LIFE.
Or how my neighbor should live their life.
Or the PTA president at my kids' school.
Or the visibly unhappy employee at Home Depot.
Or even local and national politicians.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf said it so well,
"When it comes to our own prejudices and grievances, we too often justify our judgment as reliable and only appropriate. Though we cannot look into another’s heart, we assume that we know a bad motive or even a bad person when we see one. We make exceptions when it comes to our own bitterness because we feel that, in our case, we have all the information we need to hold someone else in contempt."
Definitely guilty of that.
He then gives us the antidote:
"We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters...The pure love of Christ can remove the scales of resentment and wrath from our eyes, allowing us to see others the way our Heavenly Father sees us: as flawed and imperfect mortals who have potential and worth far beyond our capacity to imagine. Because God loves us so much, we too must love and forgive each other."
Next time you feel it rise up, resist the urge to judge another.
And then resist it again.
With practice, you will find it easier to be compassionate and nonjudgmental of others...
and yourself as well.
For Dieter F. Uchtdorf's full discourse on mercy and love, click here.
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