I didn’t think I was judgmental. I just thought I was right.
Motherhood has cured me of a lot of that. Before I had kids, I had a lot of certainties about parenting. I was a much better mother before I actually had kids, as a matter of fact. Turns out that kids haven’t read the manual, either, and don’t always do what the experts say they will do. (Also? Nothing like having children to hold up a gigantic magnifying glass to highlight your imperfections.)
But even beyond motherhood, just walking through life with open eyes and ears has made me realize how judgmental I am. Was. Am trying not to be.
When I was a teenager, “secular” music (that is, music that was not religious or “sacred”) was a sin. We good Christian girls did not listen to it, nor did we hang out with people who did. (I made an exception for Olivia Newton-John. The music, not the person. Why am I confessing this?) But then I met a really nice guy at Taco Time where I worked–I can’t remember his name–but he was a big Motley Crue fan. Maybe his name was Steve. We laughed a lot and I realized that he–a heavy metal fan–was just a person like me. Not scary, but funny. And kind and a good worker.
When I’m driving, a slow driver or a weaving car will cause me to shout, “YOU IDIOT!” (I know.) My daughter will say, “Mom, just because it’s slow doesn’t mean it’s an idiot.” She’s right, of course. I judge because I cannot speed. Dumb and unfair and a terrible example to my kids. And what if that person ends up at the same place I’m going and we look into each other’s eyes and I realize what a jerk I am?
I tend to think that my preferences should be dictates. Ask my long-suffering husband who likes to point out that I have about a million rules for living. For example, no tattoos allowed unless you are a military man or a rock star. And then I think of sweet friends who have tattoos and who am I to judge? I am so quick to dismiss trends and ideas and people who don’t fit into my tidy little world view. And how offensive am I? Judging someone for something that ultimately doesn’t matter at all?
I used to shrink back when someone different entered my orbit. How could we coexist with such different ideas about the world? And then, I’d catch a glimpse into that other life and discover the similarities beyond the walls.
Of course, I have definite ideas of things. I will never get a tattoo. I won’t have my nose pierced or dye my hair purple. I have no interest in rap music or understanding Kurt Cobain’s lyrics. I intend to stay married until I die to the same man (lucky guy). It’s unlikely that I will ever drink alcohol. I have no plans to start cursing (much) and I will never, ever find the movie “Borat” funny. I’d like all boys to wear their hair short and all girls not to call boys on the phone. In my world, no one has sex outside of marriage and teenagers don’t use the ‘f-word’ on their Facebook pages.
I try to balance on this teeter-totter of ideas and peculiarities and particularities. I have every right to sort through issues and trivial matters and decide what I think. We all do. But I find that I like people who aren’t on my teeter-totter at all, people who free-wheel through life with green mohawks and those weird discs in their earlobes and an interest in remote African politics. Hey, it takes all kinds! Who am I to judge? I like those people, even liberals and people who think abortion is a valid choice and people who like to watch Star Trek. (Most of them, anyway. Some of them just get on my nerves and there’s nothing I can really do about that. That’s the truth. I never claimed to be perfect.)
I totally believe in absolute right and wrong. Some things are always right. Some things are always wrong. But there is an ocean floating between those two island and that’s where most of us bob. At least that’s what I think tonight.
Answer: I have absolutely no idea. (Question: Why are you writing about this tonight?)
8 thoughts on “A weird musing about judgment”
I think it’s just in our nature to be judgemental. If we didn’t know that the Bible says we will be judged for judging we probably wouldn’t worry so much about it. I do my best not to judge but like you I still catch myself doing it at times. Thank God we get forgiveness right?
I’m in agreement with you on everything from abortion & tattoos & sex outside of marriage. I’m sure we were both raised with the same morals & standards. The Assemblies of God churches were very strict & opinionated. I’m glad I had the strict upbringing & wish more kids had it these days. It’s a scary world out there now & it seems that not nearly as many people have morals these days. I might be old fashioned but I see nothing wrong with that.
I like what you said that your daughter said about being slow not meaning it’s an idiot, That tells me you’ve taught her good.
I wish I’d known you more back when we went to school together. I was just so shy & awkward back then.
Great post Mel:)
I am like you in that I see clear bounds of right and wrong. I struggle with the person who gets ahead (or seems to) by doing what they want even if it is outside the box on being the right thing to do.
I suppose I am a bit different on the aspect of trying to put aside a feeling of being judgemental. I abide by rules, sure, but I try to only stand by the rules that I understand to have well thought out meaning. I have met so much assumtion and judgementalism against me and my family that I have had to realize that who a person is (and often their actions and choices) are really them attempting to be (or find) themselves. Knowing how much hurt I have personally felt through similar situations, I would hurt too much for them if I was not willing to accept them agape style. I do not have to mimic them, but I do want them to feel loved and accepted. (I know you feel this way too so please know I am not judging you, lol!)
I won’t even begin to mention how I have come to think about some things like sex outside marriage, and divorce lest I be deemed too liberal to be your friend, but I think that in general God is SO much bigger then the rules religions have written to try to please Him.
OK, lol, just wanted you to know I do read your stuff…hopefully you won’t tell be to nevermind after this post;)
I see the world in black and white. It’s just a fact. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, though we went to church every Sunday, like clockwork.
As I get older, I try to see the gray and accept it. It actually works, sometimes! The thing that works the best for me is to pray about it, and make sure my belief lines up with the Bible, not some religion. Some things are no-brainers (murder, for instance); others are harder to pin down in a tidy box (divorce, for me).
Regarding your driving story: When my dd was about five, I was doing my usual ranting at other drivers. Once I shut up, I could hear my girl sniffling in the back seat. I said, “What’s wrong, honey?” She said, “Mommy, sometimes I think you’re not going to heaven!” Yep, my mouth definitely did not reflect my faith.
good post. so yelling at the drivers in the other cars won’t do any good?
I can find lots of reasons other people do things, I can make up all kinds of “really good” excuses but in the end it is what it is…humans living the human way.
Wouldn’t this be a terribly boring world if God had made us all clones? Variety is the spice of life.
Perfect book when you have time. Mine sat on top of my bureau for over a year until I had a bad day and stumbled across it called “So You Don’t want to go to Church” by Jake Colson(or Jack…not sure and too tired to go check. Read it. Apply it only to yourself. Don’t try and explain it to others, it sounds like preaching if you do. Read it when you can…let me know if you do!
I think a very popular and prevalent trend among most people who cogitate on this idea for any length of time is that “Well, if there are so many areas that really aren’t right or wrong, then there must be no right and wrong at all. Everything’s relative.”
This is where the bobbing becomes sinking and drowning. It’s a slippery slope from situational ethics to anarchy.
But I’m with you: there are definite rights and wrongs, and a gazillion things that fall in between. I spend a lot of time bobbing.
Loved this post! I think that many Christians tend to judge too much while other tend to judge not enough. I can love a person who has red hair, piercings and tattoos (although the big ear holes really do GROSS me out!). On the other hand I have low tolerance for people who are rude and witchy. There is no reason for it.
Clair in CA – I had the same moment when my daugther was 5 or 6. A driver got mad because I pulled in front of him (I honestly did not see him coming!) and he honked and flipped me off. I flipped him the bird back all the while my daughter was in the back seat. My husband gave me a tongue lashing and my daugther remembered it for a long time. It was the last time I flipped anyone off.