Sunday, August 16, 2009

Judge Not

So, did everyone save some money and do cheap or free things this weekend?

We didn't. But we usually do.

HH took me out for my birthday. It was so fun to go on an actual date (translation: No kids!). But that meant that it wasn't anything close to a free evening.

So, there is my confession. But I promise to live more frugally this weekend.

Anyway, it occurred to me the other day that we haven't done a post on a service-related topic for a while. And since I think service is a huge key to abiding joy, it is time.

And I want to use Markell's idea this time. So, we're not discussing physical service today. More of a verbal and social service.

Markell suggested that we discuss helping others feel joy. And not detracting from it by being critical or judgemental.

It's amazing how much power our thoughts can have!

There's a story I want to share. I tried really hard to find it, but was unable. So, if you know the source, please copy it into a comment. Basically, there's a mother with at least one toddler standing in line at an airport. The toddler is sitting on the floor screaming and she pushes him along with her foot every time they need to move forward in the line.

You can imagine what everyone standing around her is thinking of her, but one man goes to her and asks if he can help. It turns out she also has a high risk pregnancy and cannot lift the little boy. It seems like she might have been dealing with other problems, but I can't remember.

The point is, no one else knew what that woman was dealing with. But I'm sure many of them were thinking critically of her. And I'm sure she was aware of what people were thinking by the looks on their faces and the lack of understanding. And it's not like she had much possibility of joy in that moment, but the negative thoughts and opinions certainly weren't helping.

But one individual thought the best of her and seems to have made the assumption that the mother wouldn't willingly scoot her child across the floor if she had another option. And even though her situation was still difficult, he afforded her the possibility of still finding joy by offering help and understanding and by not being critical.

I think we have this same opportunity pretty much every single day. Possibly multiple times throughout the day.

I know this isn't a new concept. It's just a reminder. But let's try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Let's try to assume that those around us are genuinely good people. When you don't know what someone is going through, it's impossible to accurately assess what motivates their actions.

And just like all other forms of service, this one turns right back around and blesses you with more joy. For example, let's say someone cuts in front of you as you're heading to the check out line. You can assume they did it because they're an inconsiderate jerk; or you can assume they didn't see you coming and would have let you go first if they had.

Either way, you're still stuck behind them. But in the first case you're mad and in the second, you can move on and forget about it. Meanwhile, they won't be getting any negative vibes off of you and trying to figure out what your problem is.

Anyway, what are your thoughts here? How do you keep your thoughts in check when it's so easy to be critical and judgemental? How do you help someone when it seems like they must be making wrong choices? How does it help you when someone else gives you the benefit of the doubt?


Becky said...

Here's the link to the story:

I still vividly remember a time when I was at the receiving end of unkind remarks. I was less than a week away from having baby #5 and the crib sheets we wanted were on sale. I had one chance to stop at the store and get them, along with a couple of other things. 3 year old son #4 was with me while the others were at school. He was fine until we got to the check-out and then he decided to throw a fit. If it had been any other day, I would have left without purchasing anything, but I knew I wouldn't have another chance for at least a month, so I gritted my teeth and paid as quickly as I could. As I was leaving the person behind me made some negative comment, like "I can't believe she's having another baby!" that really hurt. But it taught me a great lesson about not judging others. We can't know all the situational background. So, now when I see a harried young mother, I remember my experience. Even just a friendly smile helps to bring both of us joy.

Melanie said...


I believe that the man who helped what Present Spencer W. Kimball. I love that story.

Markell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Markell said...

About a week ago, I took our activity day girls to the city cemetery in Salt Lake to find the headstones of the prophets there. As we passed the temple, there was a man dressed in his white temple clothes and his face painted white. My heart sunk and I felt so upset to see something so sacred to me being placed on public display. It really made me physically sick.

As I thought about it at the cemetery and later I felt so sad for that man. I have no idea what led him to the choice he made that day. I ache for his pain that would drive him to do such a thing and it made me think of how Christ would feel for this man.

A few years ago, I read a book by Virginia Hinckley Pearce, I think it's called Open Heart. It really changed my perspective and helped me to think about people how Christ would maybe think about them. I am not perfect, I still have a long way to go but we really have no idea what people are going though.

I have had a few experiences where I have felt judged over the years, quite a few lately as our family is going through such big changes. The last few months has made my eyes become very open in regards to things I never thought I would have to go through. I hope if I ever have the opportunity to help someone in a similar situation as I am currently, I have more compassion then I would have otherwise.

Life is hard enough. Why do we have to be so hard on each other?

Markell said...

The book is actually called "A Heart Like His". Very good book!!