I decided, in view of conversation that has happened in the past between myself and um…well, one other, that I perhaps needed to clarify some more why I feel so strongly, the way I do, about judging others for their choices, behaviours or decisions.
I want to make it clear, first of all that I am not saying this in anyway to say “I am better because I don’t judge anyone”. I am well aware I judge others. I have done it, I probably still do , though mostly in abstract, hopefully (crazy drivers who don’t know what a turn signal is for!!!). It has taken me several years, but I have learned a few things in my life.
I am the oldest of 7 children. I and my youngest sister are the only ones who are active in Church at this time. The rest are in varying stages of life, but all are inactive. All are still members (whether they consider themselves to be or not). Do I want them to come back to Church and be active? Yes I do. I want it very much. But it’s been more effective to our relationships (such as some of them may be) to let them know that I love them, no matter what choices they have made.
There is someone who used to be rather close to me. Or at least, who I knew very well. It has been a number of years since he and I have been very close at all, but he is still very dear to me. I remember him as a child, very happy, mischievous, bright, energetic. I remember how extremely intelligent he was (and is). I remember how innovative he was. How he charmed others with literally no effort. He was constanly surrounded by friends. How cuddly of a baby he was, how big his smile was. I have always felt honoured to know him. I still do, because he is a very choice spirit and a special person. He also suffers from depression, among other things and he is a drug addict. Yes, he certainly isn’t on the path of spiritual salvation (or physical salvation either). But I don’t see him as a sinner or a horrible person who is doing his darndest to destroy the life God gave him or to be disobedient and evil. Yes, for all intents and purposes he is “apostasising”. But if I could save him, if I could carry him, if I could give him my testimony, if I could make him happy, if I could make certain that he would get on the straight and narrow, oh, I would. I would drag him by the arm. I would make sure he got back to the Lord, because I want him to be truly happy, and I want to grow a relationship with him. Can you see the beauty of a spirit inside an imperfect body? I have, too many times to write anyone off.
Then I look at my own life. I live pretty well. I have my faults (oh too many to count). I am impatient, I get too frustrated with others, often with my children, often with myself. I am a procrastinator, I need to do much better at my calling. I can go on and on. Sure, I am active, I hold a temple recommend, I have a testimony of this Gospel that is firm and unmoving, but I am far, very far from perfect. I don’t even come close. And for some reason, I recall the words of Jesus Christ that we are to be careful how we judge. When I see the example of His life, how He served with love and compassion. All those who sought Him, even those who reviled Him. And I think about the fact that even me, with all my many faults, He loves, I feel so unworthy of that love. Because I am not even half as charitable as I know I need to be. Sure, I go to Church, I read my scriptures, I do my visiting teaching, I have faith, I obey the Word of Wisdom, etc. etc. But where I so sadly lack, is in charity to my fellow beings. And so no, I can’t judge anyone else and tell them they are being rotten and are on the road to that dark place.
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail?¢‚Ç¨‚Äù”
And I don’t have it. Not enough, at any rate. Not even close enough.
And yet. I feel my Saviour’s love. In spite of all this, He still has hope for me.
“I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my ever living Head.
He lives to bless me with His love,
He lives to plead for me above.
He lives my hungry soul to feed,
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives to grant me rich supply,
He lives to guide me with His eye,
He lives to comfort me when faint,
He lives to hear my soul?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears,
He lives to wipe away my tears
He lives to calm my troubled heart,
He lives all blessings to impart.
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly Friend,
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while He lives, I?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King.
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death:
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives, all glory to His Name!
He lives, my Saviour, still the same.
Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives,
I know that my Redeemer lives!”
This is one of my favourite hymns, one of the hymns that when I sing it, or read the lyrics, humbles my heart and spirit with the great love my Saviour has for me. And when I hear these words I also hear them in behalf of everyone else, because if He is so loving, so selfless and compassionate towards ME, then how can He not feel that way towards everyone else, despite choices they make?
Of course we all need to repent, we all need to do better (if we didn’t we sure wouldn’t be here). But in spite of all our shortcomings and all the ways we mess up, He still loves us. And though He, who has more right than any, in the perfect life He led, in the exalted position He now has, to place a declaration of judgement on each of us, He witholds that for the final judgment, exhorting us to do better, to live happier lives, to love as He loves.
So, see. This is why it is so important to me and why it hurts so much to hear harsh judgements made of other people. It could be me. It could be you. It could be anyone.