I’m often guilty of thinking the world’s problems are solved by people simply making better choices for themselves. Most of the time, I can remember that not everyone has the autonomy and skills to do such a thing. Then, there are the moments where both options remind me of how easy it is to judge rather than show compassion.
Over the past six weeks I’ve been on the planning team for an event addressing the issues of homelessness. The event was a success last night with multiple elements including a meal, listening panel, main speaker and breakout sessions on how to get involved. We worked to create a safe space for people to come and give voice to their stories in relationship to homelessness.
One brave young woman* spoke about her experience being homeless. She’d been homeless most of her teenage years into adulthood after the death of her mother. Some family members gave her a place to stay, but those did not last. Eventually she was not only homeless, but also pregnant and homeless. This happened twice. I listened, teared up and walked away with a heavy heart. She was brave enough to share her story and I was caught up in judgment. Pregnant and Homeless? Twice?
While planning, I (and the whole team) focused on the opportunity to educate people about what is really happening in people’s lives as they deal with homelessness. My education came in discovering how easy it was for me to judge, even as I was tearing up in awe of a woman’s bravery.
Last night taught me that my tendency to judge is insidious. It is not always obvious and we must be careful of when our mind wanders down that road. To find my footsteps with Jesus, I’m reminded of this scripture. “We should stop judging one another; judge rather that you should not put anything before your brother or sister to make them stumble or fall” (Romans 14:13).
Might I be convicted of compassion rather than judgment.
* It is an incredible blessing to have the permission of this woman to share this bit of her story with you here. I’ve kept her name private, but trust that we can lift her to God in prayer without having it.
If you have questions about what judging means for a Christian, check out this post from Taizé.