“IF YOU JUDGE PEOPLE, YOU HAVE NO TIME TO LOVE THEM.”
–St. Mother Teresa
I am embarrassed to admit how quickly I can judge others.
Just by looking at a person, I can make snap judgments about their character and who I think they are pretending to be. It’s reflexive, unless I slow things down and listen to myself.
More than a decade ago, the following was a spiritual poke in the eye. See how it lands on you.
I was shocked, confused and bewildered
As I entered Heaven’s door.
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lighting or its décor.
But it was the people in Heaven
Who made my heart sore—
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the boors.
There stood the kid from 7th grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, “What’s the deal?
I would love to get your take.
How’d all these sinners get up here?
The Father must have made a mistake.”
“And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber? Give me a clue.”
“Hush child,” said He, “they are all in shock.
Not one of these thought they’d be seeing you!”
The things I assume about others can be breathtakingly wrong!
It’s unfortunate that the more I know someone, the easier it is for me to think I know their motivations. On bad days, I can make an Olympic event out of being judgmental; acting as though I have been ordained an emotional know-it-all!
I am fortunate, as are others that most of my critiques remain unspoken. Every day that passes reminds me that to grow, I must give up my judgement of others. Doing so doesn’t mean I must give up on having good judgement. This allows me to be less rigid and to let go of my fear of becoming an “if it feels good, do it” type of guy.
When being judgmental, I find that it artificially fortifies the parts of me in which I lack self-confidence. When I feel vulnerable or insecure, I often judge others. In a strange and transient way, nipping at others’ alleged imperfections girds some part of me that is broken, abandoned or petrified. The diagnosis of my need for a fix is right-on; however, my instinctual prescription that demands the diminution of another is a poisoned pill.
Clearly, I remain very much a work-in-progress. There is so much that I continue to learn…when to hold tight and when to loosen my stranglehold. Pointing out the alleged defects in others distracts me from my most important work and wastes precious energy that should be spent in making my own inward journey.
My life’s too short to spend it making assumptions about others. Today, I commit for the 10,000th time to retire as the judge and jury in the lives of others. With my newfound spare time, I will be better able to focus on my personal race and allow those around me to do the same.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying…. cause you are!