This is embarrassing, but I’m just going to say it.
I judge people.
I know it isn’t culturally acceptable. I know it isn’t trending on Twitter. And I know what Jesus says…but hear me out.
Lately, my social media exposure has gone way up. As I write this, I am on week eleven of social distancing and sheltering in place. Because so many things have been cancelled, and I am not as distracted by events, appointments, and meetings, I have more downtime.
Like many of us, I use that downtime scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I read articles, opinions, heated comments, and look at all of the pretty quarantine pictures.
I develop my own commentary and reactions based on what I see others post. I hate to admit it, but it isn’t always nice.
I catch myself getting angry because someone views a situation differently than me. I become frustrated when another person interprets regulations in a different way than I do. And I struggle with understanding how some of my peers can just post funny memes, not taking anything seriously at all.
I judge them.
Sneaky character flaws
That judgment also takes the form of comparison. I compare myself to the mom whose kids are on a perfect schedule, the friend who is crushing her workout goals, and the person who is baking beautiful creations while also taking on impressive crafting tasks.
I do strive to be self-aware.
I read my Bible frequently and seek to stay grounded in truth. I seek forgiveness for my envy and comparison all of the time. Still, I am a classic Romans seven girl—the things I want to do are the things I don’t do, and the things I don’t want to do are the things I do.
And it shows up in my judgy internal dialogue while I browse through social media.
During some recent contemplation, it hit me. The increasing frequency of my judgment of others stems from my own response to stress.
It stems from a few sneaky character flaws, flaws that I am not always consciously aware of. I believe that acknowledging my flaws, and examining the truths that counter them, is key to having a better attitude (and maybe a little more grace).
Three Reasons I Judge
I’m sure I’m not the only one who struggles with pride. Pride is likely the biggest contributor to my judgment and criticism.
Deep down, I want to be seen as better and more efficient than other people. I compare myself often because I am prideful and hold myself to a higher standard than I could ever live up to.
When I perceive others are living up to that standard, it injures my pride and causes envy and comparison to creep into my thoughts and mind.
Behind my judgment lies a great deal of fear, fear in so many forms.
I fear what is beyond my control. I fear not looking proficient or educated.
When another person’s opinion threatens my belief system, I fear my explanation might be inadequate and that I might lack the words to explain my viewpoint in an intellectual manner.
I fear that my own idea of safety and security will be threatened. I fear that my way of doing things is really the wrong way and someone else’s is the right way.
I fear that I will be viewed as a fake and a fraud, or a Pharisee. (Whew, that’s a lot of fear!)
I judge because I see faults in other people that magnify my own weaknesses.
I don’t like people who post or say things as if they are always right. Why? Because I too believe that I am always right, and I have experienced how that has hindered my relationships.
It’s not a character trait I admire about myself.
I find that the people who I judge and criticize the most, often possess tendencies I don’t like to see in myself. Let’s be honest—it is much easier to point out the pebbles in their eyes than the boulders in mine!
When I am focused on what is wrong with everyone else, I don’t have to hold myself accountable to my own flaws, and I don’t have to change.
What is the solution?
By submitting to the Father’s work in my life, and seeking his kingdom first, I can resign as General Manager of the Universe.
I am not in control of how other people parent, live their lives, or respond to stressful times. Hebrews 12:1 tells me I need to set aside my every weight and sin, and run the race set before me with endurance. I am running my race, not anyone else’s.
When I get distracted by other runners or people on the sidelines, I lose my footing. I don’t see the hurdle in front of me. I take my eyes off the goal, off of seeking first his kingdom.
Submission is foundational. If I don’t surrender, I can’t proceed to the next two steps.
I need to reframe the way I look at others. I need to renew my mind. I want to view others as teammates in this race of life, not as rivals. When I do reframe my thinking, I can celebrate and support them, instead of comparing and criticizing them.
Not only do I want to foster a sense of compassion toward others, but also toward myself.
I need to be able to acknowledge that I don’t have all of the answers, I don’t have it all together, and I don’t know the best option in every situation. I am not God.
I don’t have the control I think I have, and I definitely cannot control what other people say. With compassion, I can accept that I’m doing the best I can every day, through his power, and that it’s okay to fail.
Extend grace in every circumstance
When I take a step back from my internal criticism, and love others well with humility, I gain a fresh perspective.
I recognize that everyone responds differently to times of stress, and I am no exception.
Though my chronic judgment is only appearing on the inside, it greatly affects my external engagement. By learning to stay in my lane, and reframing my thoughts, I can be more content with what I have and who I am in Christ.
More importantly, I can extend the same grace to others that I have received myself.