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Don’t Judge Someone Based on One Piece of Their Puzzle
Someone just told my husband they’re worried about me because it seems like my child is my whole life, and my two-year-old child is so attached to me.
My automatic response was to defend myself. “Nuh uh! I go out with my friends for girls night. There’s date night. I have my own hobbies…blah blah blah.” The defensiveness came from a place of hurt and anger that I was being judged by only one piece of my puzzle this person sees.
Here’s the thing about judgment: We all do it. Judgement is simply looking at an incomplete picture of a person and their life and filling in the blank spaces with our own ideas and assumptions. It’s not fair. Chances are the assumptions we make are largely clouded by our own baggage, and that means those pieces of the puzzle we’re filling in are probably wrong. Even if we get a piece of the puzzle right, we’re still missing twenty other pieces that fit together and impact every other piece to create a full picture.
This person’s judgment is fueled by concern, so I understand why she said something. And she’s partially right. I do spend every day with my kiddo. We’re pretty inseparable, even down to the fact that my son needs to nap in my arms, he still breastfeeds, I post about our adventures together online all the time, and we plan to homeschool.
But this person is missing a lot of pieces. Like the fact that it brings me deep joy to spend time with my son since a struggle with infertility left me doubting I’d ever get to have a child. She’s missing how much peace breastfeeding brings us both because it’s a nifty comforting tool in the tumultuous toddler years full of wild emotions. She doesn’t see that sleeping in my arms brings him the best sleep, which means I get quality me-time to write, read, or watch Netflix. She doesn’t see that I catalog our adventures online because it’s the easiest way for me to keep track of precious pictures. She doesn’t know that my motivation for homeschooling is to give my son the most freedom to follow his own interests and passions. And she doesn’t see me going out with my friends, out to date nights, or working on passion projects that are just for me.
After I got past my defensiveness, I realized a few things.
1. I’m not ashamed that my child is “my whole world” or that he’s so attached to me. Family is big in our family. We’re tight-knit, always there for each other. I want to raise my son to appreciate and love family too. I can’t imagine withholding affection, comfort, love, time…and for what? Societal expectations? Nah, I’m good. We follow a unique path.
2. It’s not my job to defend myself or our lifestyle. Every family is different. Clearly, this person does “family” a little differently, or she wouldn’t feel this concern and make these judgments. And that’s okay! Her family culture is hers, and my family culture is mine. God is my defender, so I don’t have to defend myself. We can just live our lives and appreciate differences.
3. I judge other people too. Like I said earlier, we all do. Storytelling is a passion of mine, so it’s in my writerly nature to fill in the blanks when it comes to character thoughts, backgrounds, and motives. But I carry those tendencies into real life and fill in the blank pieces of real people’s puzzles. That’s not fair of me. It doesn’t bring peace. Judging like this actually causes me a lot of anxiety because I bring my own insecurities into their picture and assume they’re thinking the worst of me.
It all needs to stop. I need to stop judging you. And I hope you will stop judging me. Instead, let’s celebrate and appreciate the pieces of the puzzle we do see. Let’s take everyone at face value–trust a little more. If we wonder about something, instead of filling in the blank ourselves, we can ask! Ask that person what they mean. Ask why they do things this way. Or if we’re not comfortable asking, it’s okay to be comfortable with mystery. We don’t need to know every puzzle piece to see the beauty in a person’s picture.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’
“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
My note: We are called to help keep our brothers and sisters accountable, but it needs to be a matter of prayer, and founded in Scripture. This is not judging, God does that. When the Spirit leads, we should follow in a gentle reminder.
This is about giving grace to people, because we do not always see this big picture.
Jessie Mullins blogs about gentle parenting, crunchy living, and faith on Her Arms Are Strong. She’s married to her middle/highschool sweetheart, and together they have a son. This trio loves to spend time with family, thrift shop, and explore nature.