“When you live with someone whose eyes always mirror love, delight, acceptance … when you know you are cherished every moment of every day, it changes into the best possible version of yourself. And you have so much more to give the world, because your brain is no longer working so hard to simply try to survive or make sense of your life. Being well loved expands your capacity to love and be more present to others.” (Becky Johnson)
That is my life’s new mission statement.
I’ve always struggled with judgment of others. It’s been an ongoing issue in my life. It’s caused a lot of conflict and hurt. My judgment of … well … pretty much everything and everyone has caused distance and built walls in my relationships. It’s my most constant and enduring battle.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in my marriage.
I’ve heard that marriage is a mirror. As I’ve studied my reflection over the past four years, I’ve finally begun to recognize all the places my judgment shows up. I’ve tried in vain to change. But years of habit are ridiculously hard to break. I find myself getting discouraged as I continually fall back into the same thought patterns, the same reactions, the same judgmental attitudes.
Then, a couple weeks ago at church, I finally heard something that I think might actually help me fight this battle. It’s a tiny, two-word phrase that’s so small and seemingly insignificant, I’m sure most people don’t recognize the immense power in it.
Are you ready for it?
I mean, think about it.
When I am empathetic with someone – truly understanding where they are and what they’re going through – it is impossible for me to stand in judgment on them. As Jonathan, our wise pastor put it, “It’s like stepping out on the ledge with someone. Saying ‘I’m here with you. I get it. We’re in this together.'”
Now that’s powerful.
And isn’t that the approach Jesus took? When a woman caught in adultery was about to be stoned, Jesus simply pointed out to everyone holding the stones that their judgment of her was wrong. They were no different than her. She and they were in the same boat – sinners in need of grace. He put them out on the ledge with her and took all their judgment and focused it back on them.
So in my attempt to get rid of the judgment in my life, I am seeking to find the common ground with others.
Starting with my husband.
The crazy part of all this is that, according to the StrengthFinders test, one of my top five strengths is empathy. I’m literally built to empathize with others, not judge them.
Apparently I learned judgment somewhere along the way.
And it’s time for it to go for good.