I have three little boys four and under. And it's really hard sometimes. (But also really awesome and it's changing me from the inside out.) But I feel like I have a hard time admitting that it's hard because, hey, there are a lot of people out there who have 5, or 10 kids, or who are single parents, or whose babies are even closer together in age than mine, or who have even more rambunctious personalities than mine... etc. etc. And I feel like I have no right to struggle. Ever. Because whatever I'm going through can't possibly be the hardest. (I judge myself pretty harshly....)
Or I think the opposite. I hear someone complaining about their situation or how tough their one child is to parent and I think "You have no idea... Seriously? You think that's hard??"
But this is what I'm learning in reference to judging myself: Just because what I'm going through isn't "the hardest thing ever" doesn't mean it's not "hard for me."
And this is what I'm learning in reference to judging others: We judge each other based on our own life experiences, from our own lens of perspective, from our own strengths and weaknesses. What's hard for me might be easy for you, and what's hard for you might be easy for me. But it doesn't negate the struggle it takes for either of us to persevere through our own hardships. And what's more, our lives have been personalized to help refine us in areas of weakness from the start. (Praise Jesus!) Example: I am not your most patient person. And having three little boys with needs and attitudes and wants and, and, and, is teaching me to be PATIENT! (I didn't say I'm good at it yet...)
But there's more. There are struggles, hardships, and difficulties in my life that you will never know about. Please don't assume that because I choose to lift up and focus on the good aspects of life that there simply aren't any hard ones. There are. Oh my goodness, there are. But I need to do the same for others. Just because things look good for them from the outside does not mean that they aren't being completely wrecked in some private and very personal place in their life. Have you ever heard the quote "Be kinder than necessary. Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."? So true. We are all human, not one of us gets to live some pain free, perfect life. Or how about the quote, "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes"? I think sometimes I put myself hypothetically into someone else's situation and then think I have a right to tell them what they should do or how they should feel. But the quote doesn't say "don't judge a man until you've walked a hypothetical mile in his shoes..." And since we can never walk an actual mile in someone else's life, basically, we never have a right to judge another human being as though we are better than them. Ever.
But, besides those quotes from the mouths of men, here's what God has to say about passing judgement:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2.
And that pretty much sums it up. Makes me want to try really hard to understand others out of a heart of grace and love. Really hard.