The last few days I’ve been thinking about judgments. How we can make snap judgments based upon what we see on the outside and yet, not knowing what’s going on behind the scenes in that person’s life.
As all of you know, I deal with pain on a daily basis. Some days are better than others but the pain, in some form, is always present.
On the good days, I do what I can. These “good days” make it very easy for me to put on my happy face and be a participant in life….in church, in family gatherings, going out with my husband for dinner, meeting a girlfriend for some shopping, etc. On these days, it’s very easy to look at me and only see the outside presentation. To think I’m not in any pain and yet I am, below the surface, behind the scenes.
On “bad days”, you’ll find me in bed or my sauna. These days make it very difficult for me to be in public. Some people may think I should do more, be in church no matter what, never cancel a gathering, just suck it up and go. These are days I don’t go out in public because, very often, the pain is so bad I scream. Not just a light yelping….oftentimes, it’s a full out, someone’s trying to kill me scream. It’s happened several, several, several times in public. It’s just as frightening for others to see it as it is for me to feel it. Just ask Jeff’s family who’ve experienced one of these screaming events. My parents have also seen some….on a milder scale, for which I’m thankful. It’s difficult as a mother or father to see your child suffer. I’ve even come up with a “cover story” if I’m out in public. It’s happened on more than one occasion and it makes people stop in their tracks and stare at me. I then say, “Dang it! I ran my foot right into that display case!”, or “Whit! Please quit stepping on my heels! That hurts!” Yes….I use my girls as co-conspirators in these cover stories. Lol!! It’s days like these that make me nervous about being in public. I hate embarrassing myself and being the center of attention. (If I’m going to be the center of attention I want it on my terms. Lol) If I’m in severe pain…for instance, as I’m writing this, my lower back is killing me because rain is coming….if the pain is severe, you can pretty much count on me missing church, a shopping trip, etc.
See, it’s behind the scenes that people don’t see. Because we don’t see them, we can make judgments that aren’t correct. For instance…..this past Superbowl Sunday I wasn’t in church but I was “well enough” to drive to my parents house for a party and a chili cook off. I heard, through the grapevine, that some thought my priorities were out of place. They felt if I wasn’t well enough to be in church then I shouldn’t be well enough to do anything else that day. However, what they didn’t see, the private stuff, all the factors I used to make a decision would have put it all into perspective. Factors I would have shared had someone asked me about the choice I made.
The party at my parents house was for a chili cook off. Since the Superbowl ends quite late and, since Jeff doesn’t like football and thus couldn’t drive me, I planned with my sister to stay at her home overnight. I had been banned from driving for 2 months until the seizure drug was fully in my system, and this was the first drive I made after the ban was lifted. Since it was a 45 minute drive to my parents’ home, everyone was nervous. I had to call my parents and Jeff to let them know I’d arrived safely.
The night before, I literally didn’t sleep at all. The pain was too severe so I stayed downstairs thinking if I became exhausted enough, my body would give out and I’d fall to sleep regardless of the pain. Unfortunately, this was not the case.
Having been to every neurologist appointment, Jeff knows what can trigger seizures and lack of sleep is a big catalyst. I was getting ready for church and he, knowing I hadn’t slept at all, told me I wasn’t going to church….notice that?…told me, not asked me. He wanted me to at least try and get some sleep, any sleep before I made the drive. I managed to get a three hour nap in….not enough but better than none. Another big trigger is stress, so he and the girls try to minimize my stress levels as much as possible.
So, if that was the case, I’m sure the next thought of people would be, “If she’s in so much pain and hasn’t slept; why didn’t she cancel?”
There were two main reasons I went. 1) My Aunt and Uncle were there, in from Iowa and I don’t get to see them very often. The last time was 2 years ago.
2) The day after the Superbowl was my mom’s birthday and I wanted to take her out to lunch and have some one on one time with her. We don’t get to do this often and so I cherish the moments when I have the opportunity to spend time with my beautiful mom.
Had people seen behind the scenes, would they have come to the conclusion my priorities were out of whack? I like to think not. I’d like to think they’d realize I sometimes have to give up something, in order to do something else. Because of this, I make choices dependent upon what’s more important to me. I weigh both sides of every choice I am forced to make due to this illness. Did I want to do both? Yes, of course! It just wasn’t possible. I chose the gathering because I can always listen to Pastor Ken’s awesome message on the website. The same can not be said of family gatherings. There isn’t a tape I can just turn on and watch. Even if that were possible, I still wouldn’t have been able to have conversations with them, love on them, spend quality time with them. It’s always been very important to me to be with family, especially family I don’t see often. I cherish these moments because I realize they don’t happen that often and who knows how much time we have to make these moments a priority.
I must say, before I became sick, I made judgments like this all the time. Judgments based upon what I can see on the outside, without knowing the whole picture. One of the blessings of this illness is realizing how wrong I was. How could I, a human…a sinful human….judge someone else based upon what I “thought” I knew. Am I not guilty? Yep! I’m guilty…just as I’m sure all of you are guilty of this as well. Everyone, at one time or another, is guilty of making judgments even though we don’t have all the information.
Was I hurt by this? Yes, more deeply than you know. Making an assumption regarding my situation…anybody’s situation….is unkind. We all have heartache. We all have burdens to carry, trials to face. The one thing we should ALWAYS be able to count on is the love, understanding, compassion, kindness, patience, and encouragement of a fellow believer in Christ. We shouldn’t feel we’re being judged, condemned. How does that help a person who is already suffering? We should feel protected, loved, understood. How does judgment effect newer Christians, ones who haven’t been in The Word enough yet? Don’t we say we should show Jesus to others; show them what attributes Jesus and The Word asks us to have? What if that person heard us being judgmental and condemning? What would they learn? They would learn to adopt the same attitude. An attitude that isn’t pleasing to our Creator, to our Father in heaven. The attitude which is pleasing to the Lord is written about in Galatians.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Sadly, this judgmental behavior is too common, not just in the world, but also in the body of Christ. One that I wish we didn’t have. I wish people wouldn’t condemn others without knowing all the facts. It isn’t a perfect world though is it? What can we do about this type of behavior? We can start within ourselves, with The Word of God driving us, reflecting on our own, personal behavior. If we see this behavior in ourselves do we turn to God to repent, to ask He remove it from us? Do we reflect on it and to mourn our behavior?
I ask you and myself…..where do I stand regarding this? I encourage you, if you feel you’ve made judgment calls when you don’t know the whole picture, ask God to reveal it to you. Then, make amends.
The driving force within me, as I hope it’s within all who read this, is to be a progressive spirit. To always seek God and His will. I ask Him to remove from me what doesn’t please Him and to pour into me the qualities of Jesus. That’s what God wants from us….a constant desire to further our relationship with Him. A progressive spirit.