Let's Strive To Be A "No Judgement Zone"
WARNING: At some point in reading this post you will probably feel judged.
I mean, think about it.
How can I write about judging without somehow acting like a judge myself? I've felt vexed for days.
As we finish up this series on what it means to be a good parent, I think it's appropriate to talk about judgment. That is what started this off in the first place. Remember? "I'm a good mom. How could this happen?" How often do we judge ourselves as parents based on the outcomes and reactions of our children's lives? How often do we judge others the same way?
With words. Words said and words left unsaid.
With knowing looks and sideways glances.
With smiles pasted on our faces, but strong opinions raging on the inside.
I'm guilty. On all counts.
I hate it, and I also hate to admit it. Let me tell you how I was planning to start this post...
This was said to a mom I know: "You got (your child) into this mess. What makes you think you have any idea how to get (them) out of it?"
This also happened:
Someone: "Have you thought about interviewing (these people) about parenting adult kids?"
Me: "Maybe, but what about (gave some other names)?"
Someone: "Hmmm. I'm not sure I respect their parenting."
I cringed inwardly at both of those interactions, taken aback at the assumptions. I thought, "I have to share them. We have to learn what not to do or say."
But in sharing, am I now judging the people who said them?
"...If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. Again (Jesus) knelt down and wrote on the ground." (John 8:7b-8)
Oh, my. What a dilemma we face...
We make judgments in our lives all the time. I'm not saying it's always wrong to judge. There is a time to compare our lives, words and actions against truth and decide what to keep and what needs to change. The Bible doesn't tell us never to make a judgment, but Jesus cautions us in John 7:24 to "stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."
So, how can I know when judgment is good or bad? Jesus paints a great picture for us in Matthew 7:2 "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." I don't know about you, but when I take time and think carefully, my conscience tells me when my judgments cross the line into a place that raises me above another person.
If I mess everything else up, there is one thing I want to get right. I want to be filled with so much grace and mercy that even small judgments I make are balanced with empathy, love, and kindness. And with a sober look at my own life.
God is the ultimate judge, and only He knows all that goes on in our hearts, our minds, our lives.
I don't always know what to do in life. I don't always know the best thing to do or say as a parent. I often ask for help. I pray about decisions I make and actions I take. Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I don't and have to try a new tactic. Sometimes I sin, and I know those sins have consequences.
As humans, we are wired to determine cause and effect. We want to understand outcomes. We want answers. We want 2 + 2 to always equal 4. We want to know where to give praise and where to lay blame. We want to feel more in control. But I think we're wise to tread carefully when it comes to assigning cause and effect in our parenting and faith.
There is a parable I heard once in a sermon that has stuck with me over the years. In the story, a poor, old man loves his white horse, and though many people offer to buy it, he refuses to sell because he loves it so deeply. In a sad twist, the horse goes missing from his stable and the townspeople mock the old man, saying his horse is gone and now he is both poor and cursed. A few days later the horse returns, bringing with it 12 wild stallions. The townspeople rejoice and claim the old man is now blessed. The parable is long with many twists and turns, and each time the townspeople try to ascribe either blessing or curse to the situation.
It is the old man's response every time that has been etched in my memory: "Say only that what has happened has happened. Anything more than that is judgment. Only God knows why."
I have been meditating for months on some scriptures about this topic. Some of them are tough and have cut me to the quick. I'm grateful, though, because I believe God has led me on this journey to help me discern the deep waters of my heart. I hope in the end that they lead me to reflect God's mercy and grace brightly - toward myself, toward my kids, and toward other families as well.
"The purposes of a person's heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out."(Proverbs 20:5)
Do I really know all the details about a situation?
Even if I know the details, do I understand what they have experienced in life?
Am I patient, taking the time to help my friends explore the deep waters of their hearts?
Do I make people feel safe to share confidences with me?
"For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' If you bite and destroy each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other." (Galatians 5:14-15)
Am I extending grace or judgment to myself and to other parents and kids in my life?
How are my thoughts or comments building up or destroying the people that God loves?
"Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment." (John 7:24)
Do I dig deeper to understand the people God has put in my life or do I only stay on the surface in my relationships and end up making wrong assumptions?
"Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently..." (Galatians 6:1)
If there is something I see that could be harmful when it comes to parenting (or any other area) am I gentle in the way I speak and teach?
Have I mistaken having authority for a license to be harsh or abrupt?
Thank you for joining me for this series. I'm excited to share more with you about what I'm learning about parents and their adult children. I don't know about you, but when I have the right frame of mind about being a good parent and if I'm confident God is happy with my efforts on this journey, I find it is easier to let down my guard and explore areas to change or grow in. That has been my hope in writing this series.
If you are just joining in on this series and would like to start from the beginning, please go click on this link: http://lorikayziegler.blogspot.com/2017/05/lets-rethink-what-it-means-to-be-good.html