June 8, 2016

1 Reason to Withhold Judgment

“Say nothing until you walk a mile in THEIR shoes. Then you will have nothing to say.” –Quote from a friend’s father

Shoes are a very personal item. Obviously, they aren’t “one size fits all”. More than that, even feet that are, technically, the same size, probably don’t look the same. They can vary in width, shape, color, and overall health.

For instance, my daughter and I both wear size 7. However, it is hard for us to buy shoes. Our heels are narrow, and the rest of our feet are wide. This is uncommon. We have a hard time finding shoes that accommodate the varying width of our feet.

We can try to force our feet into a random pair of shoes in our size, but it doesn’t work: either our arches and toes get squished, or our heels slip up—or both. I have bought such shoes, and it is uncomfortable. My progress with such shoes is slow and painful.

What’s the moral of the story?

 If the shoes don’t fit, there’s no forcing them.  You cannot judge me if your “regular” size 7 shoes don’t fit me. I have to wear my own shoes. Only I know exactly what my feet need, since they’re unusual; you don’t.  You can tell me I must wear regular shoes, and judge me for not being able to wear them, all you want. However, that’s useless—and unfair--for two reasons:

  •  I cannot help the way my feet were made.
  • You have no idea of my specific needs. You cannot assume I have the same requirements and wants as you.

You have to allow me my uniqueness; there’s no way around it.

People often judge others by thinking in this manner: “I’m able to do/wear this, so you should be, too.” That’s often a false assumption. It can lead to disappointment and unrealistic expectations.

In my last article, I discussed agape, the unconditional love of Christ. Some of the characteristics of this highest form of love are humility, patience, and kindness. I believe that empathy falls under all three of those categories. Empathy refers to actually connecting with others’ feelings. It’s a sort of mind connection--a Vulcan mind meld, if you will (for Star Trek fans).

To return to the shoe analogy:  If people don’t wear traditional shoes, they probably have a good reason. Let’s look at one example of how the same “shoes” don’t always fit everybody right:

Joyce Meyer

This world renowned Bible teacher tells the story of a time before she had her fourth child. Her first three pregnancies had been easy. She had barely gotten sick at all. Therefore, she had no clue what a difficult pregnancy was like.

Joyce and her close friends judged a young pregnant lady who was so sick she couldn’t attend their Bible study. They criticized the lady. They couldn’t understand how anyone could be too sick to attend a simple Bible class. They didn’t get that sick when they were pregnant; how could she? They wanted to force their shoes on her, but they didn’t fit.

Then, the Bible teacher became pregnant with Daniel. She was so sick that she could barely move at certain times. At that point, she knew exactly how the other woman had felt, and why she couldn’t leave her house. Joyce saw how the woman needed to be allowed to wear her own shoes.

My Conclusion

The Savior spoke many life truths during the Sermon on the Mount. Many of them dealt with relationships and attitudes within those relationships.  Here is what he taught about passing judgment on people, from Matthew 7: 1-3 (KJV):

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

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