Judge Not and a Sink Full of Dishes

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Judge Not and a Sink Full of DIshes

What would you think if I told you that my sink was full of dirty dishes and that my kids were still in their pajamas at noon? What would you think if I told you that most of my decorations were still adorning the house weeks after the holiday? And what would you think if I told you that instead of taking care of these things, I was going to spend my afternoon writing because it is something I love to do.

I would not usually tell you these things because I live in subconscious fear of being judged. But in the past few weeks I have had some experiences that have made me think more deeply about the connection between my fear of being judged and the way I see the world.

The first experience happened when I made tacos for dinner. I thought I had taco shells in my pantry, but it turned out I was wrong. So I took a quick trip to the grocery store. As if there is such a thing. As I hurried through the parking lot, I saw an acquaintance, the brother in law of a friend. He was putting groceries in the back of an SUV. I cheerfully said hello, calling him by name. He looked startled, but returned my greeting.

At the store I purchased two packages of taco shells. As I walked through the automatic doors, this same guy was standing there. It seemed as though he were waiting for me. We made eye contact and he said in an awkward explanatory tone, “I was just helping that lady put her groceries in her car. She had lots of groceries … and kids … and so I was helping her.”  “That was really nice of you!” I responded. He smiled a half smile and then abruptly walked away.

I thought quite a bit about this awkward exchange. Why was he so intent on telling me what he had been doing? It didn’t seem that he wanted to impress me with his kindness. Rather, it seemed that he wanted to clear himself of wrongdoing. It was just strange.

After ruminating on the matter, I asked my husband what he thought. He thought that this man was concerned because he had been seen in public with a woman other than his wife. Of course, I didn’t notice this and would have thought nothing of it because there are a number of explanations for such a thing. But he must have been worried that I would question his integrity. So worried, in fact, that he wanted to set the record straight. I considered that his fear of my judgment was a reflection of the way he would view such a situation.

Several days later, I had another such experience.  I went to lunch with a dear friend who was visiting from out of town. During our conversation, she mentioned that she had been avoiding relief society activities for months because she feared that others would judge her for gaining back the weight she had lost. I expressed confusion, because this friend is beautiful and warm and fun. I would never even think about her weight. But she remained unconvinced. Later, during our lunch, a heavyset man walked by us on his way to the restroom. My friend turned to me, “That poor man.” I quickly understood that her fear of being judged for her weight arose from the way she saw those who were overweight.

These two stories illustrate what I have been learning about judgment. Each of us sees the world in a different way. We have different likes and dislikes, experiences and talents. And yet, because we can only truly know our own thought patterns, our subconscious mind expects others to think like we do. So, if we have a tendency to judge others, we will expect that they do the same to us. And the opposite is also true … if we have developed the habit to “judge not” we will not be tuned in to the judgment of others.

It puts a whole new spin on the commandment:

Judge not that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged;

and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you again.

 I had always thought that this scripture referred to ultimate judgment by the Lord and it does. But another layer of meaning is that as we refrain from judgment here and now, we free ourselves from the agony of feeling judged.

Our fears of being judged are more a reflection of the way we see the world than of the way others see us. When we think the best of others, we can expect and believe and hope that others will also think the best of us. And whether they do or not is not the point because the hurt that comes from judgment is self-inflicted.

So if you are judging me for squandering my time in wasteful pursuits, it doesn’t matter to me.  It is my job to change the way I see the world in order to feel safe from judgment.  And anyhow, I am going to get my kids dressed and do those dishes right now!

sink full of dishes

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  1. Gaddzooks! says

    I LOVE this, Shawna. Such great insights. I’ll never looks at that scripture the same way again. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Keisha says

    Shawna, have you ever read, “The Myth of Self-Esteem” by Esther Rasband? I think you would like it. I’ve read it a few times.

  3. Gayleen says

    I love reading your blog! Your such a good writer! And I’m glad I’m not the only one who me and my 1 kid stay in pjs with dirty dishes in the sink! Sometimes cleaning just gets old!! But your truly amazing and I admire you and all your hard work and positive attitude!

  4. Janel says

    Wow! That was really great for me to read, and I am sure I will be pondering the concept of judgement in the near future more closely…thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Marlene says

    Well frankly with your Christmas decorations I would just think you are Peruvian because we wait for the wise men to come (they came on the 6th of Jan.) so you take them down after. :)

  6. Becky says

    Shawna, I am one that quietly admires your writings; however, i wanted to thank you for your insight!! Very fun to read!!

  7. Gayleen says

    And we are the only one in the neighborhood with our lights still turned on!!!! Except they shut off tonight for some reason so someone must be telling us it’s time to turn them off!!! So don’t feel bad!!!! Enjoy the Christmas spirit! You do all that work so enjoy it!

  8. Judy says

    Just recently read a book that addressed this subject in a way I had never thought of before. In Anne Perry’s book, At Some Disputed Barricade, one character asks another:
    “If you set yourself up to judge one man, then you need to judge them all. Do you feel you have the right or the ability to do that?” It causes one great introspection.

  9. says

    Great post, Shawna! Judging is such a damaging, yet natural thing to slip into. And, I totally expect other people to be judging me when they probably aren’t! (ohhh, mom guilt.) Another facet of judging: I have a family member who is always talking critically about others, often about bodies, appearance, and weight. It’s not always negative–he will compliment those who “are looking good” too. But, he always seems to bring up people’s appearances. I’ve realised that even though I usually don’t overly worry about my looks or size too much, around him, I find myself getting self-conscious! How dumb! I worry a little more about what I’m wearing and if it’s flattering, or I feel ugly if I didn’t take time to put on makeup that day, etc. It’s been interesting to notice this and to realise that, even if a person isn’t criticizing US, we still feel unsafe when we hear them being generally critical. It’s easy to wonder, “Will I become the next topic of conversation when I’m not around?” I think it’s just better to not spend time discussing other’s appearance and talk positively about others! Our friends and family will feel safe and comfortable with us, knowing that we see the best in others, including them.

    • Shawna Morrissey says

      Thank you for that insight Amy!!! I can relate to what you are saying because I know people like that. I can’t what choose they do or say – I can only choose for me. (Darn agency thing.) But what you say makes me want to be more careful of what I say around others. I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable around me – EVER! Thanks again Amy! I LOVE comments! :)

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