A while back, I had a conversation with a few peers about problems we were seeing within both the Principia College community and the greater Christian Science community. The leading topic of conversation was judgment. We were all in agreement that we had felt judged or were at the risk of being judged harshly by our close community.
It is no secret that within human institutions, judgment always seems to happen. Especially in a community with a good-sized rulebook on how to conduct our lives publically and privately, it seems that the possibility of judging or being judged lies just around every corner.
For a long time, I’ve been wondering what I could do about this. What could I do to stop judging others? What could I do to stop others from being judgmental? How could I support the guidelines of an institution while simultaneously supporting the personal choices that certain friends make? I really wanted to find a silver bullet that I could use and then share with others to stop the evil that is judgment.
What I realized was that I had been focusing too much on the attack part of judgment, the dishing-out part of it. Recently, I started asking the question, “What about how we receive judgment?”
I suppose that there are two ways in which I could receive judgment. I could take offense at being judged and even decide to judge myself harshly. Or, I could have a more gracious reaction.
One example of a more gracious reaction stems from the “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” playground mentality. There is no need to take offense. Let others think what they will. If they are having thoughts that are unkind, they’ll grow out of it when they’re ready. The long and the short of it is that at the end of the day, we are all perfect reflections of God. No matter how badly we mess up, no matter how monstrous someone else thinks we are, no matter what: our spiritual identity is never tarnished. NEVER!
Imagine the good that could come from starting the day by reminding ourselves that we are all perfect, to go through our day working to know what it really means not to be affected by discord, sin, or suffering – and acting in accord with this truth. Man is God’s child, and man is perfect! Enough said, right?
This is the closest thing I’ve found to a silver bullet against ostracism. By not taking offense when it seems like you are being judged, and by constantly reminding yourself about what it means to be perfect now, you can beat away judgment with full assurance.
I’ve found that after opening up my mind to how irrelevant judgment is to my spiritual being, I have been freer than ever from worrying about how my actions would be viewed or how I might disapprove of myself. This freedom of thought has given me a new level of grace and joy. And it all started with a spiritual interpretation of the aforementioned playground chant, “… but [personal judgment] will never hurt me!”