Let me just get it right out there and say that I have been a judgmental know-it-all most of my life. I think I am always right. Always have. And my face, if not my mouth, lets everyone around me know exactly what I am thinking.
Yes, yes, I have read the Bible, including, Proverbs 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” I have even quoted it to other people who I know are being prideful. You know, know-it-alls.
It is difficult when I realize that this verse applies to me.
Oh, yeah, the fall is ugly. I have learned many hard lessons over the years. I’ve already established that I am about as stubborn as they come. So, sometimes I need an object lesson, and sometimes it has to involve me directly.
For instance, I used to think I knew everything about parenting and that all children could be controlled with the right kind of discipline and structure. Enter my three genetic progeny, who have wiring similar to mine, and cue the smack-down. Yeah, that re-teaching was pretty painful.
I used to think people with ‘fibromyalgia’, ‘RA’, and all those other ‘invisible diseases’ were just lazy people looking for excuses to stay home and get disability and sympathy. (I told you I was a judgmental know-it-all.) Watching a good friend get RA almost cured me of my judgmental attitude, but living with PsA myself? Yeah, I’m over judging others’ experience of health and/or pain.
I used to think college was the only path for everyone. Well, hundreds of students, family members, and my own children have shown me that God uses multiple paths to get people where he wants them, and that I should just get my lofty degree-carrying nose out of the clouds.
I used to see things as black or white. Right or wrong. Godly or ungodly. I have realized that God is way more complex than that. Of course there are absolutes, like God is God, and I am not. I think I will stick with that one. He knows it all. I only know what he allows me to know.
He teaches me stuff through difficult life lessons, but sometimes, when I am not being such a know-it-all, I actually read His Word and find little gems like this from Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Ah yes, grasshopper, wisdom.
So, I have been learning, and I am sure I will continue to learn, to be humble. I have said to myself, and to others, when I feel like judging someone, “I have no idea what their experience is.” I don’t know what put a homeless man on the street or what causes him to beg for money. I don’t know why that girl has seventeen piercings and is covered in tattoos; I don’t know her experience. I don’t know why that man wore bike shorts to church (it’s true, he did, and he went to communion, too), but I am going to choose to not judge him, although I think I kind of just did, didn’t I?
I am a work in progress. I am still learning not to judge. Judging doesn’t bring us closer to people. It separates us. Love draws us closer. Listening draws us closer. Learning draws us closer. Closer is nice.