When we judge others, we’re essentially comparing ourselves to them and, more often than not, holding ourselves in a superior position above them. That was the message God gave me in a powerful yoga class this morning. Powerful, not because of the workout, although it was a great one, but because of the work in that God had started in me. Yes, I’m one of those who believe that nothing, and I really do mean nothing, is coincidence.
This new instructor had an unusual practice of keeping the lights on until the very end of class, and many times throughout class, she repeated, “Suspend all judgment.” This fascinated me for several reasons:
First, I’d taken yoga for years and had never heard an instructor say, “Suspend all judgment.”
Secondly, the woman directly behind me (who I wouldn’t have noticed had the lights been off) was a woman I hadn’t seen in a year and who I didn’t like because of how she lived her life. Every time I went into downward facing dog, I stared at the top of her head. Really, Lord, suspend all judgment?
Third,I was procrastinating on finishing this blog I’d started a week ago on the topic – can you guess? – Yes, judgment! God had my attention because, until now, I would have described myself as open-minded and accepting of others. But, I’d set boundaries on my acceptance and you may also. I encourage you to make a list like I have.
Here are my Top Five Judgments of Others:
The lazy need to get off their butts and go work out.
I’ve loved exercise since my twenties when I formed the habit. It was relatively easy for my small, size four frame to step up and down on the platform or pedal frantically on a stationary bike. I’m now in my early fifties and my right hip, left shoulder, and both feet hurt. And I’m not a size four anymore. Exercise is hard and not near as fun as it used to be. Now, I have to make myself go, and my four to five workouts a week are down to two or three if I’m good. I now empathize with those who have issues that may have stifled their enthusiasm for or ability to exercise.
The obese need to eat healthy and lay off junk food.
Remember that size four frame from item number one? Well, I’d the luxury of inheriting my dad’s fast metabolism and could eat a pound of potato chips without gaining weight for many years. I’ve now experienced mid-life weight gain and my cholesterol is a tad high. Although I’m still at a healthy weight, according to insurance charts, I won’t be for long if I don’t make some changes. Having to think about and plan what I eat is not fun. I love all things bad. I don’t discriminate. I also love grilled chicken salads, but after the third day, those healthy morsels are like dry toast that sticks in my throat. And – bottom line – it takes time and money to eat healthy. I know it’s worth it, but planning for the farmer’s market in order to make fresh, low calorie, low-fat meals is an inconvenience in my day and my budget. I now empathize with those who can’t control their weight by just walking to the mailbox and keeping companionship on the couch at night with chips.
Shop-a-holics need to save more.
Shopping is a stress reliever for many similar to eating or drinking alcohol is for others. I used to shop frequently then meet friends out to dinner where I overate and had too many cocktails. I was blessed to fall in love with a man who had a good education and a good job that enabled us to have it all, including a nice savings account for awhile – until that job was taken away. I stayed home full time with our children. I faced the disturbing fact that I’d mismanaged mismanaged our finances, since I was in charge of that area of our lives. I spent way more than I should have and now empathize with those who like to pick themselves up by hunting down shiny, new tchotkes.
The overly-medicated should look into holistic methods and lifestyle changes.
Whether it’s medication for physical or mental deficiencies, no one – I repeat no one– ever knows what another needs for wellness. Can children avoid ADHD medication if they make dietary changes? Possibly. But what about those children who are so picky about what goes into their mouths that their parents are thrilled they are eating anything? Children with un-addressed, learning disabilities are prone to dangerous forms of self-medication as teenagers. And who am I to say yoga can take the place of an anti-depressant? I thank God for the gift of health while I have it, and now empathize and pray for those who face each day without it.
The procrastinators and disorganized just need tips on how to manage their time.
I think back with embarrassment to a talk on time- management I gave almost twenty years ago to a moms’ group. I was a stay-at- home mom with one child at the time. I can’t believe the mother with five kids under the age of seven or the working mother of three didn’t string me up and run me out of there. I didn’t graduate college until I was fifty-one. When my traditional college classmates asked for my notes, I happily complied but with an inner smugness. Then, I realized some of these young adults worked forty hours putting themselves through college with little or no parental support. Some of their parents had made a mess of their lives.
I empathize and will suspend judgment, even if judgment seems reasonable. I will suspend judgment of everyone so as not to suspend myself above anyone. That is God’s position of authority.
Mentoring Opportunity: When you are brutally honest with yourself, what judgments do you make about others?