Freed of Judgment

In my more recent years of life my dad has taught me much about freeing people from my own judgment of them.

For example, before I had kids it was easy to form opinions about the strategies of parents. As a Behavior Anaylyst, I saw many failed techniques and often ushered in new strategies with great results. While my work was helpful to others, it became quite easy to watch parents wherever they were and determine that I would or wouldn’t do what they did.

Then I became a parent.

And I found myself putting my own opinions, judgments, and strategies to the test. Boy was parenting A LOT more complicated then I’d ever imagined. My techniques still worked… but now it was my blood, sweat, and tears putting in the long hours.

I realized that I needed to free other parents from my judgment of them.

Likewise… I needed to free myself from their perceived judgments of me. I couldn’t worry what other people thought about my parenting… I had to survive!

I also learned this lesson over a conversation with my dad about a family who celebrated a holiday differently from us. Dear friends have chosen not to celebrate Halloween… and to separate from our church, in part, because of the evangelistic outreach it held on Halloween night.

My family, however, celebrated* Halloween… but only the parts we feel we can redeem for our kids. For example, when we carve pumpkins, we read The Pumpkin Gospel as a family… and reflect on our “ickies” that God removes from us… and the light He puts in us. We attend the church outreach because it’s a great family friendly night that brings us together with our church’s neighbors.

I prefer this to what I see as running and hiding… and handing over to darkness that which ultimately belongs to God.

My judgment.

It was a conversation with my dad that made me realize that both families could be right. Who was I to stand as their judge and condemner? Or them over me? If God has called my family to the redemption of a day… then I can trust it is for our good and the good of others. And if another family feels God leading them to abstain from these celebrations… then I can also trust that it is for their good… and the good of others. Can He not lead each family according to the dynamics, personalities, backgrounds, struggles, and talents of that particular family? Or is it that the way He leads one family, He commands for all.

In some things, yes. This is not a call for a make-your-own-way-to-God party. The Word is very clear on certain things.

And on the rest… well, it’s not mine to judge God for how He wants to lead others.

He didn’t lead Moses in the exact same way He led Abraham or Joseph or Mary or Noah…

It’s so easy to compare our lives to others, our goodness to theirs… and forsake entirely the areas we need to grow personally. Or to decide that we have God all figured out… that He would never do this or that.

Unless, of course, He says He won’t or will in Scripture.

For example, He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). That’s not debatable.

May we continue to grow in living such a way that we free others to be led by God as He deems fit… and free ourselves to be led in the same way. To be discerning and prayerful when we are unsure about the fine lines… and leave the judging to the Judge.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

1 Corinthians 4:5

 

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 28 of 31 Days in 2012.

Freedom Within Fences

First of all, I just have to shout…

IT’S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QATqOjEC0vM?rel=0]

AH!!!! My little Californian heart is flitting around on the flurry, tasting the first snow of… Fall? Mesmerized by its descent… transfixed on the giggles of kids and their parents alike.

Perhaps many months of snow from now we will be complaining, not giggling, trudging, not skipping. But in this moment… our smiles are big, the beauty of God’s creations is still fresh and new, and we find comfort in hot chocolate and blankets pulled from their summer slumber.

Perhaps this kind of presence to the occasion is also what dad has taught me. To breathe in the moment and celebrate it’s goodness. To quiet the voices of past and future and relish in the now.

Which takes a great deal of self-control. The ability to say “no” to our desires or temptations… and “yes” to what is good for us and for all… even when it is in conflict with what we want.

To hold our tongue when it doesn’t build up or offer a solution.

To turn down the volume of our own attention-seeking inner voice so we can truly listen to the heart of another.

To build a fence, so to speak, around our actions, words, and thoughts. To put a filter on our hearts, minds, and souls. A thermostat to set the degree of our interactions.

Free-for-all living does not equate freedom.

What a lie our culture has fed us… that saying everything you think, doing everything you want, and treating others the way one believes they “deserve” somehow equals abundant and complete living. True freedom from our self-made pedestal.

The kind of freedom that leads to a life of putting out fires, burned bridges, and deep friendship missed to self-righteousness.

Some of us even call that “love.” Saying what we think, if it’s true, regardless of timing, how it helps or doesn’t help, whether it’s condemning or instructive… is love.

My dad has taught me differently.

That true love… shows restraint. It speaks truth in love… in true love… purely based on concern for the wellbeing of the other and not on the pride it gives us to be “right” or to have a special knowledge.

It is self-controlled.

It doesn’t just speak because it can… but because the world will be better for it.

It doesn’t just do because it is able… but because it truly is right and good… and doesn’t rob another of the opportunity.

It doesn’t hand out its own self-made justice… but longs solely for the eternal joys of each person and lives by such longing.

I have learned this the hard way. I did not take the advice of my dad on this one… not at first.

But seeing the pain I’ve caused others in my rash decisions to speak and do… have converted me to a life of careful restraint and thoughtful action.

I’ve used words in the name of “love” as daggers in the already wounded.

I’ve filled every “need” and thus prevented other gifted and talented from being used.

I’ve responded in full emotion… trusting the fickle feeling rather than ancient words of wisdom…

How freeing it is to know that you are not owned by your desires!

To live so carelessly as to say, think, and do on every impulse… reflects a life unbridled. A person on a crash-collision course with no driver in the car. A boat tossed to-and-fro on an angry sea. That does not sounds like freedom to me… but instead of devastation, calamity, and a great need for other things to be in control of.

Like spouses. Children. Employees. Animals.

Instead, when I choose to live with intentional restraint… I am truly free. Free to love others as they deserve. Free to trust. To give. To be.

Because I know that my choices are my own… and I am not a slave to my feelings.

  • A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.

Proverbs 17:27

  • A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.

Proverbs 29:11

  • Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. . . If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile. Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their misfortune and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

James 1:19-20, 26-27

To learn more about 31 Days in 2012 or view other 31 Dayers blogs, click here.

I’m spending 31 days writing about my confessions and the lessons {Dad} has taught me. This is day 27 of 31 Days in 2012.