Doesn't decorating for Christmas bring out the most incredible feelings?
Fond memories of seasons past. Warmth towards people around you. Anticipation of Christ's coming. Thankfulness. A spirit of giving. Cheer. Judgement.
Wait--what was that last one? Yes, I said judgement.
Sometimes, it's in the sweetest moments that I become aware of my biggest flaws.
Like when my husband works incredibly hard on a project for our house. And as quickly and as exuberantly as I've thanked him, I'm laying out my vision for the next project. And I forget to appreciate what I've been given and the person who has given it to me.
In this case, it happened while I was decorating the tree with my husband and three small children. My quick and keen ability to judge other people became painfully evident to me.
And it wasn't even because I was doing it. I was thoroughly enjoying the gift of time with my family, the pleasure of having little ones running around at my feet, the celebration of the Christmas season.
And the high blood pressure that comes along with...
- heirloom ornaments,
- lots of glass,
- a large tree in a big bowl of water in the middle of a room,
- six chubby little hands, and
- six clumsy little feet (eight if you add my own clumsy feet, but I wasn't as worried about those at this particular moment).
When I only had two toddlers and a baby who didn't move much, decorating was pretty easy. One of the kids wasn't touching anything, and Sean and I had enough man-power between the two of us to guide the other two kids through the decorating process. Not only that, but it seemed easier to train them when there were fewer needing one-on-one parenting at a time.
We didn't have the problem of as-soon-as-you-sit-down-to-discipline-one-child-there-is-bound-to-be-another-one-making-mischief-somewhere-else. We thought we had a pretty good handle on expecting-first-time-obedience. And we were pretty certain that the parents who only decorated the top-halves of their Christmas trees were just inconsistent with their children. There was no way they were really paying enough attention to their children's behavior, right?
Cue this year...
When the baby has become a toddler. And there aren't enough grown up hands to hold all of the little hands. And the little hands are curious. And the little feet are on the move. And I'm suddenly in panic-mode because I don't know how to balance letting-kids-be-kids with my desire to display the fragile Nativity set now, rather than four years from now.
And here's the thing:
As I'm sitting here about to confess how terrible it was that I used to judge other people's parenting from the outside, because now I totally GET IT, all I can think of is how somebody is probably going to judge me for my last few paragraphs.
But maybe that speaks even more of my temptation to judge others:
My fear of being judged.
I wonder if this is what Jesus is talking about when He says,
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you," (Matthew 7:1-2).
- Maybe, the way that I judge other people ends up being the same way I get judged simply because I assume that everyone must really think the same way I do.
- Maybe I end up heaping judging upon myself just because of the way I judge others.
- Maybe I end up feeling like I'm constantly being judged just because of the way I judge others.
God, please forgive me for being judgmental towards people. I want to love people like You do. I want to give people grace the way You do. I want Your heart for them. And I want to live like I know how much I have been forgiven.
There's freedom when we aren't judgmental towards other people.
- It frees us to love others the way God loves them.
- It frees us to be secure in who we are without comparing ourselves to others.
- It frees us to do what God asks us to do without worrying about what others will think.
Do you agree?
I'd love to hear your own ideas about what Jesus is saying in Matthew 7. Can you relate to anything in this story? Would you share in the comments?