The other day a friend and I were discussing the pros and cons of a particular lifestyle found in segments of certain societal groups. It’s more common, though not usually prevalent, in some church circles. My friend thinks that we might learn a lot from people who have chosen this lifestyle, because they seem to do some things very well. She thinks we ought to try to engage them in conversation whenever possible.
The problem is that people in these groups sometimes exude an air of judgmental-ism which makes approaching them, let alone engaging them, a difficult endeavor. This would be a good time to note that my friend is no wimp. She’s very smart and sincere and desires to do right by God and man. I think people in any group could learn a lot from her. Also, she has really friendly kids, and I tend to judge people based on the friendliness of their children.
Yes, I did say I judged people, and yes, I do see the hypocrisy. I really need to work on this. Maybe if I work through my judgmental attitude, work on taking the log out of my own eye, it will help me understand the “judgmental” attitude I think I see in others.
Here goes…When I’m around children (ages two or twenty, it matters not) who seem happy when I speak to them, or happy to take the initiative to speak to me themselves, I’m comforted. I am somehow assured that, whether through direct instruction or by indirect example, they’ve learned that other lives have value. They honor that value with a smile or a kind greeting or conversation. I believe other lives have value because they were created in the image of God, and therefore, no matter how people look or smell or wear their jeans, they deserve to be acknowledged – even by children. (Of course, I’m not talking about “talking to strangers” here.) Anyway, if even children understand this concept, albeit in very elementary ways, it’s a pretty safe bet that they learned it from their parents. I appreciate people like that. I see it as a good thing, and I humbly propose that my judgments on the topic of friendly children and my looking for this “good” in others, have merit. BUT (a very BIG BUT!) I must admit that the presence or absence of this quality in others might not really give me the whole picture of whether or not they value life. So…this self-evaluation has been a helpful process. I will, by the grace of God, change my attitude. Especially, now that you all know my weakness and can hold me accountable. And there’s the difference.
The difference in my judgmental-ism and that of the other group is that you might not have guessed my attitude if I hadn’t confessed it. There is also a difference between “being judgmental” and making honest judgments. I feel judged by the other group precisely because of their outward words and actions. Still, I need to give them the benefit of the doubt. Are they truly being judgmental or am I just sensitive to their honest judgments? After all, I’ve already admitted that at least some of their judgments probably have merit, too. At the very least I need to make some effort to find out. I hope I’m around when my friend decides to engage those people. Rather, I need to engage them myself.