“So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.” (Rom. 14:19, MSG)
We hear it all the time—judgements in disguise.
“You should try it this way.”
“How often do you get your brakes replaced?”
“I make that same recipe but it’s an organic, non-GMO version.”
I am a strong, independent-thinking woman, fairly confident in my processes and practices. Nothing cuts me in two like judgement wrapped in advice.
Part of this is attributed to my pride. I don’t like anyone to tell me what to do or that I am doing something the wrong way. Correction is not my love language. I’ve got issues, I know.
But the idea that my way is inferior because it is not your way causes me to curl up into an emotional fetal position. I retreat into my cave and disengage. “You think you can do it better? Be my guest. I’m out. Bye, Felicia.” Clearly, I have some issues to address.
Whether it comes from family, well-meaning friends, or comments on social media, judgement-laden advice hurts. It hurts our heart and our relationships. I think it’s fair to assume we are all on the receiving and the giving ends of “let me help you be better.” Obviously, our way is the best way. Why wouldn’t everyone want to do it like we do it?
Accountability comes from a heart filled with love. Judging comes from a heart filled with pride. (Lysa TerKeurst)
Judgement in disguise shows up in all kinds of places.
The irony of writing about judgement to encourage you to not be judgy is not lost on me. Judgement can get all prettied up in a blog post, a Facebook response, or an off-handed comment to a friend.
The Car Seat Controversy
I follow the Duggars on Instagram. I get a little tickled and a lot miffed when I read comments on their IG posts. For example, Derrick Dillard recently posted a picture of his son in a car seat. The IG community became agitated over the position of the car seat and the strap tension. Many people felt the need to offer “advice” on how to strap the baby in the car seat. Never mind the fact that this child’s mother is the big sister to fifteen children.
I assume Dillard’s motive for posting the picture of his son sitting in an air-conditioned car was to offer a contrast to the un-air-conditioned environment his family lived in while on the mission field. People like to judge the Duggar family; they put their faith on television, and they experienced an infamous fall. What started as a simple contrast of cultures became a platform for IG’ers to wrap judgement in advice.
While I don’t comment on the Duggars’ IG posts, I do let my high and mighty opinions land on others in not-so-gentle ways. I decorate judgement and hand it out as advice. Because don’t you all want to be as awesome as me? (Please hear the sarcasm in that last question.)
When we get ready to suggest a better way, ask: is this about love, or is this about being right?When we get ready to suggest a better way, ask: is this about love, or is this about being right?Click To Tweet
My unsolicited advice, a.k.a judgement, surfaces most often in my parenting.
“You should number your spelling homework like this.”
“Fold your shirts like this, not like that.”
“For the love, leggings are not pants!”
A pretty sizable chunk of parenting is instruction. We teach our children life skills such as the proper way to load a dishwasher, prioritising homework after school, and basic table manners. Once the “how to be a human” class is dismissed, we release our kids to practice what they were taught. They learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Adjustments are made, quirks are developed, and they eventually become functioning members of society.
My daughters are independent in basic life skills. This fact does not, however, deter my propensity to offer helpful suggestions for ways to do life better. Most often, these are nit-picky, “do it my way because my way is the best way” judgements. I can tell the difference. I give instruction with kindness; I deliver judgement with criticism.I give instruction with kindness; I deliver judgement with criticism. Click To Tweet
Let me be clear, leggings as pants must be addressed. I will fight that battle to the death. But if my child insists on wearing her boutique-style tops with her running shorts because this is her “style,” well, I’ll tuck my judgements back in my pocket. I’ll take lots of pictures so she can either glory in her cutting edge sense of style, or laugh at her rookie fashion faux-pas.
I correct petty things so my kids will do things like me instead of focusing my energy on the big things—righteousness and peace and joy.
“For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 14:17, ESV)
So, today, I will bite my tongue. I will let the little things go. Instead of offering advice with a side of snark, I will speak words of life infused with love. I will encourage righteousness through love and seek peace through silence.
My advice for you? Well, don’t wear leggings as pants. Obviously.
“We can have our junk together in a thousand areas, but if we don’t have love, we are totally bankrupt.” (Jen Hatmaker)
For the Love by Jen Hatmaker is a humorous and insightful look at living in grace-filled relationships with others.
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