The Lord Looketh on the Heart- My Journey of Becoming Less Judgemental.

 

I have some confessions to make about myself and some of those are pretty ugly. Money and affluence has the ability to corrupt your heart.  It happens slowly, almost imperceptibly.  It creeps into attitudes. It slowly changes how you perceive yourself and the world.

My husband made a very good living, and in the last five years he made and extremely good living.  We watched our income continue to rise, and we marveled at the new opportunities that extra income provided.  With that income came worries…

Are we giving enough?
How much are we justified in enjoying ourselves?

Overtime it became easier and easier to justify more for us. We began to feel entitled and our experiences began to jade us from helping others as much because we noticed that they began to feel entitled as well.

“The minute you feel irritated, inpatient, scared, sad, angry, or betrayed because of something someone else has said or done realize that you may be sitting in an righteous judgment,”- Joseph Bishop Peace be unto thy Soul 

It is easy for those feelings to start to creep in even when you are trying to be grateful to the Lord and acknowledge his hand in all things.  We knew He was blessing us.  We knew and understood that we were stewards and that it was our responsibility to use our money wisely.  We were doing charitable things, we were looking for ways to bless other people’s lives, we were trying to be generous, but at the same time we began to feel that our righteousness was entitling us to those blessings, that the Lord was blessing us because we were good stewards and for our good choices. We thought we were reaping the benefits of good character.

Can you see elements of pride beginning to creep in?

We began to feel that we deserved to personally enjoy the fruits of our labors.  It was a very fine line to try to judge how much giving was enough and how much keeping was justified.

We watched as friends, family and aquantances who used to be grateful when we shared with them began over time to expect and feel entitled to share in those things or to receive help.  They quit being grateful.  We even had people who came to us and expected that we would give them money.  One person even said that because we had extra, it was our duty to give to them. We began to feel used. Those feelings caused us to withdraw our support from some people.

I was watching it change me.  I was watching it change my family.  I saw it in little comments and attitudes and it worried me.

“The man or woman who lives with a need to judge others often does so to prove that he or she is always right and better than everyone else. Often the mistakes of others would have been ours had life given us the opportunity to make them.”       – Joseph Bishop, Peace be unto thy Soul 

But what could I do?

I couldn’t make Scott make less money.  Plus I was starting to enjoy the benefits of this life style.  Gradually luxuries became common place to me. At first I used to get mad at Scott for buying me things.  I felt he was too extravagant, but that made him feel bad so eventually I just allowed it.  The more I allowed, the more I became accustomed to. I liked flying to a big city for dinner.  I liked being able to get new outfits each month or to get my hair and nails done. Things that were special treats just became regular occurrences. As my personal budget increased, I found that I easily spent more.

I have found that whatever your income is, you can spend it. That is what we did.  We spent it, shared some of it and saved very little.  Again this troubled me, but not enough to make drastic changes.

I heard my kids make judgements about strangers based on appearance and I began to make those in my mind as well. Family jokes were centered around the most extreme person we had seen at Walmart.  I realize now, that we thought a awful lot of ourselves and our ‘good’ decisions.  We rarely gave anyone the benefit of the doubt and or expressed compassion for people who had caused their own trouble by their own bad choices.

“Many times our quick judgments of appearance are made because we don’t want to be bothered to take the time to understand someone else. It may boost our own egos to belittle others like elevating ourselves. Such a habit needs to be changed if we want to follow our Savior.”-Max and Bette Molgard

Then everything came crashing down. I was immensely  humbled. In a matter of seconds, all of the money in the world didn’t matter.

The first step for me in becoming less judgemental was to be humbled.

I began to look at people who were in difficult situations in a different light. Because of my own personal suffering, I began to feel empathy for them.  At first it was just for other widows, then it was for people in a variety of trials that were not of their own making.

I began to look at people who were in difficult situations in a different light. Because of my own personal suffering, I began to feel empathy for them.  At first it was just for other widows, then it was for people in a variety of trials that were not of their own making.

I had believed that Scott and I had chosen this path before coming to earth.  I began to look at others in difficult circumstances and see that maybe they had chosen those trials as well for different purposes.  I realized that we chose to go through hard things because of the love we had for other people.

Now a woman in a difficult marriage was not there necessarily because of a bad choice, but maybe because she had loved her family, knew that they were going to struggle, and promised to suffer through those things with them in order to help them.

“The pathway to that kingdom is not at all like a marathon in which those who finished first are the winners. But each of us has our own pathway with individual Kurz and trials and blessings. The only absolute requirement is that we do our best with what we have been given”-Max and Bette Molgard

My heart was beginning to open.

Still I judged people who were suffering the consequences of their own mistakes.  More time and more experiences were needed to carve out a place in my heart for them.

Then I started helping people.

At first it was mostly widows and widowers.  Then I began reaching out to women who were divorced or single.  I began to hear their stories.  As I served them, I began to love and understand them.

That love began to open my heart, that love was given to me from God, It was a portion of his love for them. Because I was serving and helping other people, and because I was praying for them, The Lord blessed me to feel his love for them.

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has lived different lives. Those experiences affect how we see the world how we see ourselves, and the choices we make. No matter how much I try, I can never put myself completely in someone else’s shoes. Only God can do that. That is why He is the only one who can judge.

“Who am I to judge another When I walk in perfectly?In the quiet heart is hiddenSorrow that the I can’t see” -Susan Evans McCloud

I began to try to stop thinking negative judgmental thoughts about people that I encountered. Instead I resolved to try to feel empathy for them. I made up reasons why they may have appeared the way they did.

“I plead for understanding among our people, first spirit of tolerance towards one another, and for forgiveness. All of us have far too much to do to waste our time and energies in criticism, faultfinding, or the abuse of others. The Lord has commanded this people, saying: ‘strengthen your brethren in all of your conversations, in all your prayers, and all your expectations, and all you’re doing.’ This is the Commandments, stated unequivocally and then follow this marvelous promise:’and behold, and low, I am with you to bless you and deliver you forever.’ (D&C108:7-8) ”    -Gordon B Hinckley

Imagine that, the Savior will forever bless those who take the time to look deeper into the hearts of individuals who need our help and understanding.

The more perfect one becomes, the less he is inclined to speak of the imperfection of others.”                   – Gordon B Hinckley

I remember one particular experience….

I had been very troubled and distraught over what I feared someone else was doing. I was so completely encompassed by negative thoughts, that I felt I could not function.

I prayed, “Heavenly Father, I cannot help this person, and I cannot help my family and other people, if I feel this way. Please help that to change. Please take these feelings away from me and help me to just love this person unconditionally.”

Over several days I struggled with this issue. I studied and I prayed for help. Then I was filled with complete and total understanding. I knew that change required time. I knew I had to be patient during that time. I knew that God had a plan for this persons life. All of a sudden everything was okay. I no longer worried; I was filled with patience and I didn’t judge.

“The more you refrain from negative judgment, the more peace you will have in your life.” – Joseph Bishop, Peace be unto thy Soul  

I was free.

I was free to just love.

Grace had enabled me to overcome my natural feelings. Grace had allowed me to see the divine attributes and potential in this person. Grace had let me feel God’s love for them.

“But when we are blessed to perceive the true motives of others (or to feel how much the Lord loves them), our point of reference is changed.”- Joseph Bishop 

It changed me to the very core.

I realized that I didn’t just have these feelings for this person, but it had extended to other people in my life, people who my judgment of them had prevented me from helping. I knew that I was free to be an instrument in God’s hands. Without judgment holding me back, I could unconditionally care for them.

“As we work step-by-step to perfect ourselves, we will be blessed with increased portions of the Lord true light.   With that light we will be in the position to serve others through love an example as we help them come to him.”-Max and Bette Molgard

I realize now how much my judgmental attitude had preventing me from helping and serving others.  I realize that it dimmed my light.  That God could not use me as long as I insisted on being judgmental.  My pride stood between us.

If we help with love, not judgment or criticism, we can be a light.

Being non-judgemental is not easy.  It takes a lot of time and effort.  We have to constantly watch our thoughts and control the things we say.  Not only do we need to not say negative things, but in order to really be a light we must encourage others.  When we see them as God sees them, then this is easier to do.

“Finding fault is easy, but help and understanding take charity and time.”-Max and Bette Molgard

The gift of charity allows us to do this, but the first step in gaining that gift is purging judgement from our souls, praying for that love, and then attempting to give it through the positive, patient things we say and through our actions.  When we act with courage and faith the Lord in His grace will bless us with that Love…  His pure love…

“The magic of encouragement can fill our lives and be passed on to others. It will Not only replace the wasted negative, judging times that will fill our lives with happiness and spiritual growth. That feeling is always contagious. It will fill our life and rubbed off on our acquaintances, Friends, and most important of all, our families.” -Max and Bette Molgard 

Questions to Ponder:

1. How can changing  how you view others help you to feel more peace in your life?

2. What will you start to do to change judgmental habits?