I’m not judging, but … (Prayer Devotional for the week of March 23, 2014)

First, a quick grammar lesson: The word “but” is a conjunction, which is used to contrast something that has just been said with something that is about to be said. Ex: I can’t stand mayonnaise, but I love mustard. So, it makes complete nonsense to say something like, “I’m not racist, but …” (and then say something disparaging about another ethnicity). Or, here’s a good one: “Don’t get me wrong, but …” (and then say something critical). Or, how about this classic: “I’m not judging, but …” (and then cut down someone). What it boils down to is that you can’t use the word “but” as a disclaimer for saying mean things about people. Contradicting yourself does not give you grounds to judge others. Believe it or not, the Bible does not forbid us from judging people. In fact, according to 1 Corinthians 5:12, we’re actually instructed to judge each other, but it should be within the context of the church and for the good of the church family, not to alienate or degrade people. Then there’s Matthew 7, which warns that we risk being judged by the same criteria that we judge others. Ouch, I remember being stung by that passage of Scripture in my early days of parenting. As a young, childless adult, I had often thought negatively about the parenting skills of people whose children were being obnoxious in a store or restaurant … until I was *that* parent with the inconsolable, fit-pitching toddler. Talk about eating my words! I have seldom been so mortified. Remember that cliché you probably heard from your parents: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” For the most part, I agree with that sentiment, but there is also a time and a place for constructive criticism. The catch is that the first place we need to look for problems is in the mirror. Matthew 7:3-5 picks up the conversation with a reminder to investigate our own flaws before we start pointing them out in everyone else. Part of being a healthy church family includes holding each other accountable, which means holding ourselves accountable, as well.

Dear Morning Me:

Dear Ang in the morning:

You are smart, capable, and nearly finished with this tremendous feat that you have worked so hard to complete over four-plus years. Criticism is supposed to be constructive, so build from it and don’t let it crush you. (I realize you find that difficult to do; I’ve known you your whole life, but trust me.) Right now, you are too tired and too sensitive.

Your dissertation committee is supposed to challenge you, because they want you to conduct & write the best research project possible. It just feels crappy right now because you feel like they are picking on you. I don’t think they are, so don’t take it personally.

Get some sleep and then hug the kids good morning, one by one. Then, go and enjoy a cup of coffee at your weekly ladies’ Breakfast Bunch life group in the morning and appreciate a new day.

Love,

Sleepy & Cranky Ang