I’m learning that when we stop judging, and start just paying attention we find that we are all more alike than we are different.
We find that the things that really bother us about someone are the very things that we struggle with in our own lives.
This summer I volunteered to teach a class to a group of women living at a long-term residential recovery center.
Together we’ve been walking through life, exploring boundaries (or lack thereof), and just being real about who we are and who we want to be.
I can truly say I find that I have more in common with these women than some of my friends.
The raw truth with which they live and speak, the vulnerable place from which they share their true selves, the responsibility they take for their own choices.
It’s refreshing. Humbling. Convicting.
Every single one of us is one bad decision away from a totally different life. Who are we to judge?
Not one of us lives in an ivory tower and if we believe we do, I wonder what it looks like from up there?
The world could use a whole lot less judging, more loving.
These women have found their way into my heart and I’m learning more from them than they could ever learn from me. And that, to me, is community. Broken vessels helping and healing other broken vessels with the truth, love, joy & pain of our experience.
We are all the same.
Each one of us have walked difficult roads. Whether that is in our family, friendships, marriages, parenting, or personal addictions or struggles, we all fall short.
And the truth is even if we get ourselves straightened out for a single day, tomorrow we will stumble.
We do ourselves a disservice to believe that someone else is to blame for our bad attitude. That someone else caused our stumbling block. That someone else is responsible for our poor choices.
One of my favorite poets is Kahlil Gibran. He said, “Our worst fault is our preoccupation with the faults of others.”
We are responsible for ourselves, the only one we can change. When it comes to others, we are called to love.
To fix what we can do only in ourselves and allow others to grow in the conviction of their own hearts. There’s a big difference between conviction and condemnation. Who do you know who has ever grown, changed or found freedom out of condemnation?
The women at the Mission display some of the purest forms of community I have ever seen. Because their truth comes from a place of compassion and “I’ve been there” instead of “I can’t believe you stumble here” they are able to speak hard truth in the face of struggle and frustration and offer strength instead of strife.
Healing instead of hurting.
They look one another in the eye and say if you ask for help, I will help you. How can I help you?
Stop judging. Start healing. We need each other. We need each other’s strong to find our strong. We need each other’s best to find our best. Stop competing and comparing, stop tearing down and destroying. Enough already. The world already has enough critics, we need encouragers.
What will you be?
Who will you become?
It will never be easy to step away from the crowd and go against the grain of our culture. To stop bonding over critical spirits and begin cultivating a new conversation. But it’s time. I don’t know exactly how to get there but I know it begins by one single step. One step after another step offering grace. Forgiveness. Empathy. Compassion.
We are more alike than we are different and we’re all just one decision away from a totally different life.
So the very moment you start thinking you’re better: that your sin isn’t as bad as someone else’s, or that your struggle isn’t as grievous as another’s, STOP.
Be less judging, more loving.
We need all the encouragers we can get. This world is getting darker and meaner every day and we need your light. Be light. Be breath and hope and grace and wings to those who have fallen and give them your strength. Be bolstered by theirs. You and me, we go together into the darkness and we fight.
We fight for a new conversation among women. One that loves, encourages, builds and refuses the status quo.
One that refuses to give up until everyone is in.
I want to live like these women. Real, vulnerable, truthful and brave. It’s better than any ivory tower I’ve ever seen.
Forget about perfect. Forget about striving to be something you are not and never will be. Forget about competing and comparing and judging to find out who is better or whose sin is less severe.
Judging someone else says nothing about them and absolutely everything about you. And I’ve found that making mistakes is far better than faking perfection. Every single time.