Trials and struggles take many forms, many of which are not immediately and visible to those who we associate with or encounter in our lives. Most Trials and struggles that we endure are in fact on a personal and emotional level which we don’t readily share with others. Only our closest friends and family. Some we only share with God on the most personal and private trials of our lives. So why do we dare criticize and judge others when we don’t understand the trials they are enduring, the choices the have before them or any idea of what they are dealing with in there personal lives.
A Recent post on Facebook from a friend of mine got me thinking about judging others and how it comes so easily to some who simply don’t understand or refuse to understand the position that some people are in. This Friend of mine suffers from Sever Depression and anxiety disorder and social phobia and panic disorder as her official diagnosis. Lucky for her she is not pumped full of harmful drugs but rather has a service dog who is ever at her side to help her out when things get bad. She has opted to use alternative forms of assistance rather than let her mind be changed by harmful drugs. I for one am very happy that she has decided on this course of treatment over drugs. Sadly many people have judge her for her choices to not medicate, and have judge her as cruel to animals because she has a service dog and is “making” it work. Often she has been the victim of harsh and hurtful comments such as “just suck it up and deal with it” or “stop faking it”. I cant really put it any better than my friend, so with her permission I will quote her
“It’s hard to explain panic disorder to people. Or why because doctors can’t find any reason why I pass out a lot it can’t be possible. It’s even harder to explain how having a service dog for it works. I can’t explain it. I can’t give you a logical explanation. All I can say is without a service dog I wouldn’t have a job. I wouldn’t be unmedicated and I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today. Knowing I have the security of having a service dog, knowing she’s going to alert me when I am gunna fall or have a panic attack or even am just getting into an unhealthy state, it gives me a sense of safety. A sense that if something goes wrong people will understand a bit more. People won’t panic because she has instructions in her vest! That when I stagger and fall like a sack of bricks I know I’ll be ok! It’s one of those things that just happens… So next time you open your big mouth and tell me to ‘suck it up’ or ‘get over it’ and to ‘quit faking it’ think before you do it. I’m a patient person but you can only say it so many times before I snap. If you don’t like that I don’t over medicate myself and find alternative measures to solve my issues then too bad! There’s the door out of my life! I don’t need ‘friends’ like you.”
a second incident she explained this way
“Yes my dog is pretty.. thank you
NO! you can not pet her she’s working.. don’t question why and don’t continue to let your child approach her. don’t get mad at me when I passively step between your child and my dog to prevent her from touching my dog and don’t even touch your kid. don’t yell at me that i’m a selfish and horrible person when your child starts to scream and cry and throw herself on the floor because she can’t see the pretty puppy. you only make yourself look bad for yelling at a girl with a service dog in the middle of a mall.. and don’t act surprised when a group of HIGHSCHOOLERS stick up for me and call them disrespectful snotty children… when you say that look at yourself and your child… I have to say thankyou to those highschoolers for sticking up for me I greatly appreciate it thanks!”
Whether intentional or not these kind of statements that people have made towards my friend are harmful and hurt the one we are telling them to and show a judgemental and ignorant attitude towards people who struggles we just cannot comprehend or understand, and in many cases we cant see.
Too often people are swift to judge others without understanding. We see the things they do and say and judge them as good or bad people but do we ever know what choices they did not have when they do something we disagree with? can we ever understand the position these people are in or the emotional state that lead to the decisions they made? When we do judge others too often it is out of ignorance. We think we know better but in reality we know far less about the given issue than the one being judged.
There are circumstances in which judging is necessary, for example, a job interview is all about judgement, are you fit for the job being interviewed? capable of doing that tasks required for the work? is our skill set appropriate for the job? Do we have enough experience for the role we are being interviewed for. At the same time we are often judging the company based on our impressions of the interviewer. We need to be careful in who we spend time with and associated with. It is important to spend time with people who will lift you up and not tear you down. These types of judgements are justified and appropriate and an important part of life, but they should never lead to judging these people as good or bad, wrong or right.
Gregory A Schwitzer of the Seventy put it this way
“We live in a world in which many situations require us to make judgements that are often difficult. Yet the Saviour gave the commandment to “judge not” our fellow man. 1 How can we do this and still exercise good judgement in a world full of deception and corruption? We must judge well when making critical decisions in each phase of our life, such as choosing friends, finding an eternal companion, or choosing an occupation that will allow us to care for our family and serve the Lord. Although the Saviour asked us not to judge others, He still expects us to use excellent judgement.”
We may often find ourselves making quick judgements about people, which can change or redefine our relationships with them. Often incorrect judgements are made because of limited information or because we do not see beyond that which is immediately in front of us.”
Sadly we have an epidemic in our society of rash judgement of others that are not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Often what we judge others for is based on the most minor of infractions and not based on any real knowledge of the person being judged. In Mathew chapter 7:1-5 Christ says
5 Thou ahypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
in other words, before we judge other we should ensure that we ourselves are perfect. A state that no one living is in, as we all make mistakes and we all require repentance.
The only way we can counter this insidious path to destruction of rash and unrighteous judgements if forethought, knowledge and wisdom. If we find ourselves in the bad habit of making rash judgements of others we need to turn to God in prayer and seek his help in changing our habits. Search the scriptures and apply the teachings of Christ.
In the book of John chapter 8 vs 3-11 one of my favourite storeys in the scriptures demonstrates Christ’s gospel very effectively about not judging others.
5 Now Moses in the alaw commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger awrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own aconscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Christ would not condemn or judge the sinner, and neither should we, Lets leave judgement up to God and only he is the perfect judge of all. Only one who is perfect and without sin can Judge righteously.