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Have you ever been judged by someone?
Can I tell you about an awful experience when I was judged?
Bed, Bath and Beyond is a daunting store. Add three children and shopping there becomes an insurmountable task. But on that particular day, I forgot that key point and ventured out to make a purchase and an exchange. We made it around the circle and back to the registers without incident (surprisingly!), checked out and then, as I finished strapping Henry, then aged one, into his carseat I realized I had forgot one of my bags!
A dilemma faced me– unbuckle everyone, walk everyone back in, get the bag, walk out and re-strap everyone in the car again. That sounded like way too long considering I needed to rush home before Henry fell asleep in the car. So, I pulled my car right up to the front of the big store window, opened two windows, passed out snacks and toys, and ran as fast as I could inside, glancing over my shoulder at the car again and again. I grabbed the bag and ran back out. I opened the sliding door to throw my bag back in and was cooing in Henry’s cute little face when I heard someone behind me say, “Are you the mother who left her kids?”
I turned around to face a big, rather daunting-looking man. Without saying anything I gave him a look like ‘who are you?’ and walked over to my car door.
He followed me.
“You are the kind of person who doesn’t care about your kids aren’t you? Well, I’m calling the cops on you.” And he pulled out his phone and called the cops. I was speechless, frozen. Call the cops on me? What?!
He walked behind my car and wrote down my license plate number. I started crying.
He was talking the whole time to people passing by, “This mom left her kids. Now she is pretending to be sad. This is the kind of mom who doesn’t deserve to have kids.” On and on.
I called my husband. He helped me calm down a bit, in time for the cop car to pull up. As soon as the cop car pulled up, my accuser rushed over to him and flashed his own badge at the cop who had just showed up. “I’m a cop and I found this woman’s kids by themselves in the car while she was shopping.” He looked at me with disgust. “And she has an attitude. I better tell you about what happened over here.” He led the cop away from where I could hear. After a few minutes of their private meeting, the other cop came over to me. I explained as calmly as I could what had happened. Thankfully, the police man saw that this situation had been blown out of proportion. A passerby came over to tell the police that she had seen me inside the store for less than 30 seconds to grab my bag. The police told me to be more careful next time and as he walked back to his car, I went over to the man who had accused me. With the awful stories about children left in cars, I see why my choice created so much hype in this man. But I needed to tell him how his actions made me feel.
I think I said something like this, “I’m sure you see terrible things as a police officer and I appreciate the safety you bring. But I hope that you never forget that there are devoted mothers and never forget what she looks like. I give my time, my energy and my love to my children. Today you stole from me my innocent belief that people assume the best in others.” I wanted to shout at him, push him away from my children, find out his name and call his police station, and yell from the rooftops how unfairly I had been treated. But, I didn’t.
On the way home, with tears still coming and praying for comfort, I thought of the Savior of the World. He came to Earth to save His Father’s children. He came to give us a way home from “that awful monster, death and hell.” (2 Nephi 9:10) And yet those very souls He came to save reviled Him, saying, “[Thou] hast a devil.” (John 8:48) In His acts of kindness, mercy and compassion, they taunted Him, calling Him a Samaritan, the group of people they labeled as corrupters of Jehovah’s priesthood.
No person has ever come to Earth with a purer heart or with more perfect motives. No person has ever matched Jesus in the love He exemplified. No person has ever taught truth as completely as the Son of God. And yet, He was betrayed by a friend, judged by a mob, cruelly whipped and then condemned to die on a cross, a ignominious punishment reserved for slaves and enemies of the state during the Roman rule.
The words from the following hymn took on new meaning for me as I considered the magnificently unfair judgment of the Lamb of God:
In this beloved verse, we don’t know if the condemned man is guilty or innocent. But it is almost better that way. Humans love to cast judgment. We quickly accept the media’s slashing judgments of individuals each time we read the news. ‘How could anyone be so terrible!’ we wonder. ‘What an awful person,” we conclude. ‘That poor, innocent victim,’ we assume.
But we don’t know the whole story. We never will in this life. God knows the whole story. He therefore declares, “vengeance is mine,” and then clearly states that of us it is “required to forgive all men.” (Romans 12:19 and Doctrine and Covenants 64:10) This includes forgiving those who judge us and letting go of the hurt…
…which can be a difficult thing to do.
President Uchtdorf’s words have helped me:
There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.
We are not perfect.
The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way.
Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way.
Remember, heaven is filled with those who have this in common: They are forgiven. And they forgive.
Lay your burden at the Savior’s feet. Let go of judgment. Allow Christ’s Atonement to change and heal your heart. Love one another. Forgive one another. (April 2012)
There are deep life lessons embedded in our moments of being unfairly judged. One of them surely is to appreciate, at least in a small, tiny part, the ultimate moment of spiteful, unjust, and inequitable judgement ever made. Another is to learn compassion for those the world condemns without second thought. Another is learning the true meaning of ‘long-suffering.’ (Moroni 7:45) In my pondering, I have found more of these lessons and each one takes an arrow out of the unfair judgments.
And in the difficult, difficult moments, we can remind ourselves of the Savior’s words to the deeply wounded Joseph Smith:
S: (Prayer/Ask) What can I learn from the unfair judgments others make about me?
- No matter how many times I read these verses, I am struck with the perfect Plan of Redemption and the central role of LOVE. Think about unfair judgment as you read these messianic verses.
10 ¶Yet it pleased the Lord to abruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an boffering for sin, he shall see his cseed, he shall prolong his days, and thedpleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto adeath: and he was numbered with the btransgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made cintercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53)
- Read this quote from Joseph Smith. How can this help you (and me!) in situations of unfair judgement?
While one portion of the human race is judging and condemning the other without mercy, the Great Parent of the universe looks upon the whole of the human family with a fatherly care and paternal regard; … He holds the reins of judgment in His hands; He is a wise Lawgiver, and will judge all men, … ‘not according to what they have not, but according to what they have,’ those who have lived without law, will be judged without law, and those who have a law, will be judged by that law” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 218).
- President Uchtdorf said:
I imagine that every person on earth has been affected in some way by the destructive spirit of contention, resentment, and revenge. Perhaps there are even times when we recognize this spirit in ourselves. When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment. (April 2012)
- Should we judge others? I submit that such a question is the wrong one to ask. Consider Elder Oaks statement:
The key is to understand that there are two kinds of judging: final judgments, which we are forbidden to make, and intermediate judgments, which we are directed to make, but upon righteous principles. (August 1999)
- How can we overcome the dark feelings of unfair judgement? I love President Uchtdorf’s counsel:
The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade. (April 2012)
R: (Write) your thoughts, what you learned, impressions you received, and anything else in your scripture journal (include your thoughts on the study session question: What can I learn from the unfair judgments others make about me?)
- Write down an unfair judgement made about you. Then write about how (and if!) you’ve been able to put it aside.
- Write down an unfair judgement you’ve made. Write down how you will give it away.
- Write in your journal how you think the Savior must have felt to be judged so wrongly, over and over again.
E: (Prayer/Thank)- thank God for what you’ve learned and ask if there is anymore.
The Challenge: Ask yourself these questions from President Uchtdorf:
…consider the following questions as a self-test:
Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
Do you secretly envy another?
Do you wish to cause harm to someone?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!
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