Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Judgy Pants

"Stop judging me, Mom!" Those are the words my oldest son spoke to me several weeks ago. I was taken aback by his directness and said, "What?" He then explained how in his seminary class, his teacher taught them a big lesson on not judging others. I thoroughly apologized for making him feel badly and let it go. I thought that judging interaction was the end of our discussion, but it wasn't.

For the rest of the day and into the night, my son continued bringing up the fact that I was judging him. Every little thing I asked him to do, any question I had for him was met with, "Don't judge me, Mom!" or "You're judging me again!" I became a little annoyed at his persistence, so I decided to do some research on judging in the scriptures.

When I logged into my Gospel Library app and searched judgment, there were zero results. Weird! So I searched judging and was given hundreds of results! I started looking over the list in each book of scripture. There were so many scriptures on judging, judges, judge, etc. It was all informative, and I'd read most of those scriptures before. Yet I wanted to help my son understand that sometimes we must judge others or a situation. So I decided to narrow my search to righteous judgement.

Bingo. I found exactly what I was looking for! :) The next morning I had a wonderful conversation with my oldest son. While I don't remember what I said to my son verbatim, this is pretty much what we talked about:

I understand that we shouldn't judge others harshly, frivolously, or without just cause. We truly have no idea what other people are going through, or how their life experiences have shaped them. What might be easy for us could be difficult for someone else, and vice versa.

For the most part, we should absolutely leave judging up to the Lord, as we are told in 1 Samuel 24:15"The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee..." And Matthew 7:2 teaches that we must be careful with how we judge others: "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Yes, we must be thoughtful and cautious when putting on our judgy pants!

Whatever people choose to do with their lives is their business. We have been given the awesome and amazing gift of agency to make our life choices—which I am extremely grateful for! I love being able to make my own choices! (I'm pretty sure I'd "fight to the death" if someone tried to take away my agency.) Aren't we so blessed to be able to make our lives exactly how we want them to be? :) Just like we want others to allow us to live our lives as we see fit—and without harsh judgments—we must allow the same courtesy to everyone around us...within reason, of course.

There are certain times in our lives when when we must judge others. I believe mothers and fathers have that judging stewardship over their children living at home. It's a parent's duty to judge what their children are doing/saying/watching/participating in so they can help them as they grow. Things could go very wrong if all parents did was say, "Oh, I don't want to judge my child. I need to just let them do what they feel is best." No. Our job as parents is to help our children along the way—to help them understand right from wrong, and hopefully put them on the correct life path. Then, when our children are older and living on their own, they can make the decision to either follow what we've taught them, or to go their own way.

I also think we have a right to judge anyone whose actions directly affect us, or those within our stewardship. If others' choices don't have any sort of effect on us, we should happily let them be. But the instant someone else does or says something that involves us and/or our stewardship, we have every right to judge the situation and/or person.

If we know it's truly okay or needed for us to judge a person or situation, we must remember to follow what John 7:24 teaches us, "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." Yes, that phrase has stuck with me throughout my entire life—or at least when I heard it in church for the first time! I love that our Savior has fully clarified that we are supposed to judge righteously! :)

I truly try my best not to judge others or situations unnecessarily, but there are those moments when I need to become the judge for the well-being of my family, or myself. As long as I'm prayerful and listen for a response from the Holy Ghost about what needs to be done, I can sleep at night knowing that I tried my very best.

Side note: Not judging is a very difficult task for me when children are involved simply because they have zero control over their lives—they are at the mercy of their caretakers! I'm working on this issue of mine... :)

One of the greatest talks I've ever heard on judging is "Judge Not and Judging", by Elder Dallin H. Oaks. I remember hearing his talk a couple of years after he originally gave it at a BYU devotional in 1998. He goes into much greater detail on judging than I've written here. Yet I look at judging in such simple terms. As I said previously, judging is something I try to my best to avoid, but when necessary, I have no problem hiking up my judgy pants, throwing on my black polyester robe, climbing the stairs of my mahogany desk, sitting up straight in my high-backed chair, listening to both sides of the story, consulting with myself (and whoever else is affected), and slamming down my gavel with a verdict! Just kidding, I don't own any of those judging accessories...except judgy pants! Ha ha.

*In all seriousness, I highly recommend reading or listening to Elder Oaks' words for his talk is filled with clarity and brilliance! This is one of my favorite paragraphs in his talk:
"So far as possible, we should judge circumstances rather than people. In all our judgments we should apply righteous standards. And, in all of this, we must remember the command to forgive."

I'd forgotten about that paragraph because it's been so many years since I heard his talk. But he's absolutely right. Like anything else in life, in order for our judgments to be successful and not catastrophic, forgiveness is key! When we've made mistakes (or sinned on purpose—only to later regret our choices), we want everyone to forgive us! Thus, even after we've seen all the evidence and given our ruling, we must be willing to forgive everyone!

How is the judgy situation with my oldest son, you ask? Well, he fully understood what I was trying to teach him. Yay! And he agreed with me. Bigger yay! Whew! Now I don't have to hear him say, "Mom, you're judging me!" anymore...what a relief! ;)

It's been interesting to see my darling and inquisitive son ask me questions now and again about both people that we know, and the many varied stories in the media. I enjoy hearing him ask what my thoughts are about how others handle their lives—I love that he respects my opinion! We have great conversations simply because he's curious about the world around him.

My son has also gotten used to my reply, "Well, they have nothing to do with us, so I'm not going to judge them." It's also been really funny to hear my son say, "Well, maybe you should [insert activity] so then you can judge them!" In those cases, I reply, "Well, if you really must know, here's my take [on the person/situation]—but don't speak this information to another living soul!!" or "Here's what I would do [about said situation/person]."  (That's a rare occurrence.) Then I absolutely clarify that it's their life and/or situation, and we just need to leave it alone.

I'm grateful for the opportunity I've been given to not only live my own life, but to be able to influence the lives of my amazing and wonderful children! I'm even more grateful that my darling Gregor agreed to not only accompany me on this grand life adventure (And create/raise beautiful children with me!!!), but to also share his thoughts, opinions and laughter. :) The gift of Greg's affection, adoration, eternal love, and our precious children, is literally my dream come true!

1 comment:

  1. As a reading and researching "nerd" (I suspect, much like yourself ;)when I first joined the Church I always poured over the footnotes. (Still do.)

    So naturally, Matthew 7:1 footnotes referenced Joseph Smith Translation Matthew 1 - 2 which says: "Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgement."

    Which is, needless to say, QUITE the contrast to Matthew 7 -1 as found the King James Version. "Judge not that ye be not judged."

    I was in Sunday school class where the KJV of Matthew 7 -1 was being taught...lauded even...but without the JST reference.

    As a meek and shy new member...I was thinking...Wait. What?

    Then I thought: Oh! They must not have read the footnotes.

    I hesitantly held up my hand and pointed out the JST footnote reference.

    The instructor had not read that footnote.

    But...immediately the class became divided as to which rendering of the scripture "they" each individually preferred.

    Again, my new member reaction was...Wait. What?

    I held up my hand again, and asked the question: "So...the Lord's Prophet not only interpreted scripture, which is part of his calling, but he also translated it as directed by God. Are you judging him or God to be in error when you prefer man's translation?

    Grudgingly, it was accepted that the JST was the true meaning.

    But my eyes were open to how close many members hold the whole "not judging" thing to their hearts. (Even though they still did it.)

    I too have read and loved Elder Dallin H. Oaks Judge Not and Judging talk!

    I quoted part of it on another blog yesterday (the talk's 18 anniversary, as it was given March 1 1998 at BYU)

    It's almost like some members are trying to abdicate responsibility.

    "In any human situation, whether large or small, each of us can be either a lubricant or an irritant. There isn't much in between. Indifference is an irritation, and neutrality can be seen as muffled hostility." Neil A. Maxwell (August 25, 1993 BYU Annual University Conference.)


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