Saturday, February 22, 2020

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, February 22, 2020 - The Overcoming

What is the rule against judgment all about? Why are we encouraged not to judge others? We are told we should leave it up to God to do it. But why? 

It’s true, we judge others all the time. Every minute of the day, in fact. We judge others for the way they look, the way they are dressed, the things they say, the way they spend their money, the way they keep their house, the kind of car they have, especially for the mistakes they make. We judge them for all of it. Some of us are better at keeping our mouths shut about it, but the inner monologue lives.

We do it to make ourselves feel better. It’s been observed that some need to (mostly figuratively, sometimes literally) cut off the heads of others in order to make themselves feel taller. But they are no taller. 

I would think that’s what happens when our natural ability to evaluate becomes burdened by the effects of depression, abuse, or other emotional harms. Fortunately, that’s not the limit of our evaluative capacity, because it is not alone. We also have creativity, compassion, and intellect to assist us. Our higher attributes can make excellent use of our natural tendency to judge. 

We must first acknowledge, step one, that we are biologically programmed to evaluate. That’s the part about which to be non-resistant. We are judgers. We can probably also agree that the underlying reason we all do it is because it’s a biological function of protection and procreation. It’s built into our DNA. It’s encoded into our creation.

That’s why we should be non-resistant to “the Judge’s” existence. Suppressing our natural tendencies never works. That is not the location to place our focus when desiring something better, more enlightened, for ourselves. Don’t try to change the parts of you (or your situation) that are unchangeable. They are there for a reason and part of your creation, part of your purpose. Accept your God-given ability to evaluate and try to be more welcoming of all the unchangeable conditions of your “classroom” here on earth. 

Since our brain is so flexible, we can deliberately be more compassionate and creative with our skills of evaluation. We can make better assumptions. A nod to a good pastor friend of mine, Heather Cook, who once pointed out that the Good Samaritan did not ask the sick man how he became sick. He just helped him.

What does it matter if we fill in the gaps with something a little nicer, really? The truth will be the truth no matter what we choose to believe about it. So the only difference is the impact it makes on you and your overall emotional well-being. Anything you resent, or distrust, or judge literally pollutes your body. Stop it. It only makes everything worse.

How do we know why a person is on the path they’re on? How do we know their purpose? How can we know what’s in their future for which today must happen? 

We do not know the purpose of suffering, or sin, for that matter. Some with faith conclude that there is a purpose to all things and that love is at the heart of it. I am one of those faithful. The one sure bet, however, is that it is not a person's illness which enlightens them. It is their healing. Which means that it’s not the hurtle we should be focusing on, it’s the overcoming. 

My own husband was once addicted. And now he’s a community nurse with a specialty in addictions and a member of our local human rights commission. Are any of us authorized to say that there wasn’t purpose behind his experience as an addict? Or at the very least, to consider that his experience is more complicated than we might imagine? I am incredibly proud of his story and what he’s made of his life. I also believe that God has a plan for us all. Sometimes the tests are hard for the degrees we want. But our vocation is why we go through it. 

They say if life hands you lemons you should make lemonade. What if lemonade was your goal all along? Jamie‘s experience has proven so valuable, that in hindsight, one wonders if it might have, on some divine level, been on purpose. 

Which brings us back to judgment. Who are we to say whether or not angels weep and wince at the choices we humans make? We don’t know anything. We do not know what God thinks. We do not know the hearts of others, nor the intentions of their soul. We do not know their purpose or their plan. We should stop acting like we do. 

Love them right where they are. That’s what the Christian dharma teaches us. And it is not the only faith system to teach it. Let go of your judgment of others. And your interpretations of scripture. You don’t know anything. Especially if you’re an expert. Then you know even less. Buddhism teaches us to have a beginner's mind. To be open to advanced thought so often interfered with by thinking we already have all the answers. A beginner's mind creates room for us to be allowing of things we dislike—since we know nothing about them—as the only viable path toward either knowing them better, truly transforming them, or perhaps even turning their use toward good. 

Recognize that all which you yourself overcome in life gives you more power to be of service to those who experience the same. You raise the vibration of the planet with every single loving act you commit. Believe your sins are forgiven before you even commit them. There is a plan for you too. We ease the burden on all of humanity, and propel ourselves forward, when we fill in the gaps of our imagination with mercy. Be at peace.

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