There’s a saying in the Bible (Matthew 7:1-2) that’s come to read differently for me recently: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
Me…judge? Had you asked me, I would have said that while I’m not always successful, I try not to judge, because I know that I can’t know all the details of any particular situation.
But recently I’ve become aware that there has been a type of judging I did as my children were growing up…a measuring of my child against someone else’s child and their behavior. Sometimes my child came up “better”; other times I envied the other parent.
It felt like my children were a reflection on me and my ability to parent. I know–that’s not necessarily so, but that’s how I had felt as a child, and it carried over to me as a parent.
Recently, though, I’m realizing that you can be the best parent in the world, and that’s no guarantee that your child will behave as you would have hoped and expected. Sure, there may be some things I’d have done differently–even for my own child–but that doesn’t mean that another parent is wrong…not unless there is abuse involved.
Children are not clones of us. They are independent creatures…and they have the ability to make their own decisions. In an ideal world, those decisions would always be positive ones. But we don’t live in an ideal world–and so sometimes our children make choices that can create problems…for them and their families.
What’s needed then is not judging…it’s nonjudgmental support. It’s recognition that we all do the best we can…but sometimes that best just isn’t enough. Our children have to learn to make their own decisions. Sometimes they learn from others’ experiences…but sometimes they seem to have to learn the hard way.
None of us is perfect…and so none of us can judge righteously.
None of us has ever seen a motive. Therefore, we don’t know we can’t do anything more than suspect what inspires the action of another. For this good and valid reason, we’re told not to judge.
Tragedy is that our attention centers on what people are not, rather than on what they are and who they might become.― Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness: What Happens When God’s Fierce Mercy Transforms Our Lives
Let’s spend less time judging and more time supporting.