“Yesterday I judged the man who managed a basilica overlooking the Spanish Steps in Spagna. He scolded me for having Roxy inside the Basilica. Then he scolded the lady beggar perched outside of the church door. After he yelled at her, I asked him if he knows Jesus. Well that could be said of me as well.Everybody is terribly flawed, sick, and full of false humility and false pride.”

by Mingjie Zhai

 

“Off the Judgment Seat”

Fiction Based on a True Tendency to Judge

by Leanna Glenn Markham

 

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character, or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

Trigger Warning: our program often motivates people to discuss their trauma. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, please, take a step back to address emotional flashbacks and trauma before continuing to push yourself. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 or the National Suicide Hotline at (1-800) 273-8255.

 

I offended two people before
I’d been up even an hour today.
“He should have known better,”
I thought of the one
I snapped at.
“Who was that?”
I thought as I hung up on the other.

Judging from my mental throne
can come as easily as breathing.
But not—I hope—
with the same frequency.

I read in Acts yesterday
how a group had brought
Paul the apostle
before a Roman proconsul.

He threw the case out.
Not deterred,
the group turned and started beating
one of their own
right in front of him.
The proconsul ignored them,
refusing to cast
judgment of any kind.

He basically said to them,
“Manage your own issues.”

Aha.
There’s a lesson.

When Jesus said,
“Don’t judge,
and you won’t be judged,”
He spoke of
cause and effect.
He added that
whatever measuring stick
you use against others,
they’ll use against you.
Fair enough.
and not fun.

He was not saying,
“Don’t evaluate,
don’t assess.”
He wasn’t advocating
turning off the brain.
But He was saying,
“Don’t assume you
know another’s thoughts,
their motives.
Don’t step up onto
the judgment seat.
It’s not your place.”

That Roman proconsul
didn’t want to open
a proverbial can of worms,
not that they had cans then,
nor would have wanted worms
in them if they did.
He wanted to free
himself for what
he considered more
important matters.

Could I not
do the same
for my mind,
my emotions?
Let them focus on
all that brings
Joy
Peace
Satisfaction
Good relationships?
That space,
the non-judgement zone,
is truly free space.

Judges in ancient times
sat on benches and chairs
carved of stone.
Could I not
offer the courtesy
to others around me
of letting them walk
away from my
flimsy chair,
the chair hammered together
of my opinions,
hasty thoughts,
and under- or
over-caffeinated brain?

Should I not kneel
before the real
Judgment seat of Truth
and confess that
I really don’t know
everything I pretend to know?
Think I know?
That I cannot possibly
know the “why” in
someone else
when we all require
such a journey to even
know ourselves?

Such a kneeling
brings no condemnation,
but refreshment,
grace.
The admission
releases me into
a different life
than even moments
Before.

I can stand and walk
Passing others
But not passing
judgment on them.

I can also
receive their judgments
of me
with a little more grace.
I have seen. I have judged.
I have been wrong.

Every moment
births the next.
Every breath
fills my body
with life.
And with life
emerges hope,
the butterfly
of the soul.
What’s ugly
need not stay
that way.
It can hunker down,
curl in,
go into its proper
dark place,
get fed,
and peck its way out,
Transformed.

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