Monday, March 27, 2017

I Struggle with Judgment

Yes, I struggle with judgment.  I thought judgment and pride were things that people consciously chose from a place of comfort.  I had learned a while ago that pride and judgment were "wrong," so I just made a decision right then and there: "OK, I just won't judge and I won't have pride."  Easy enough, right?  I wouldn't have to be part of someone else' broad-sweeping accusation of judgment (which is judgment in and of itself), and I wouldn't have to feel guilty when it came to talks about these issues...if I just relinquished all my pride in one sitting. 

So ever since then, a bunch of stressful feelings accumulated.  These feelings had to be something other than pride and judgment, right?...because of course, I told myself I would never judge!  So I felt I was victimized by something else.

Truth is, I've learned that everyone struggles with this.  It's part of the human condition...and I don't hear that acknowledged very often, if at all.  As I learned at one of the breakouts at  the recent North Star Conference, judgment comes from a place of fear...the underlying fear that we are not good enough...that someone else is better than us.  I personally thought it was safe to assume everyone else was better than me....that would keep me away from judgment, right?  That's not a good mindset either!  But anyway, people who struggle with judgment are most likely struggling with something much deeper.

Of course I've consciously steered clear of the more final judgments, such as determining where someone is going after this life or what kind of person they are.  I also still think there are such things as righteous judgment, especially when it comes to our own well-being.  Yet unrighteous judgment, or perhaps just mistaken, can also come from placing someone else within our own value system (and more often than not, it's subconscious and it doesn't mean we're bad).  Synonymous with my unhelpful decision to never judge, I thought judgment was something that could be mastered within a short time.  Nope!  It's going to be a lifelong process for me and several others.  I'm going to continue to identify times when I'm burdened with judgment...cause it is a burden...one that needs the healing touch of the Master.

I've struggled with this more often in the gay Mormon world.  Sometimes it's righteous.  For example, I can't help but desire a network of gay friends who understand me, who are walking the same path I am and who share my beliefs about marriage and family.  I have to use judgment in order to choose these kind of friends.  Yet I also use judgment to build walls around myself (of course, I didn't know it was judgment...don't judge me!).  One of my friends hit the nail on the head during a teaching moment when he said, "But if I stop judging him, I'm going to be like him."  I can totally understand that kind of thinking, and I can't be the only one...hopefully the majority of people deal with this.

I sometimes think...if I soften up and show more love to LGB individuals to live or believe differently...I'll eventually end up in bed with them!  If I stop being so defensive of the Church and of its position on marriage...then I'll lose my testimony of it.  Truth is...there's some legitimacy to these fears, but it's a risk I have to take...a leap of faith...can I stay faithful to my beliefs if I exercise more love for others in the LGB community?  What will happen if I open myself to other possible explanations and beliefs about marriage?  The truth is...I still might have to make choices about who I spend my time with.  It's not like every group or meeting with "LGBT Mormon" in the title is a good place for me.  Lest there is any confusion, this isn't about them, it's about me.

I still struggle.  Just like most people who are gay (and really...everyone in general), I have my own feelings and struggles with where I've been placed.  It's difficult to have some deep feelings about marriage that lean toward the Family Proclamation, when a straight ally leans another way.  It's hard to feel like I can't be myself at church or at work...even if I'm not breaking the law of chastity.  It's hard to see gay friends kissing each other.  It's hard to hear negative things said about LGBT people (although honestly...I just happen to be in the right places and the right times and I don't hear that very much).  On the flipside, it's hard to hear negative things said about my faith, my leaders and how "oppressive" the Church is.  Even though such things aren't directed at me personally, it still hurts.  It's also hard to feel like I might lose friends if I were to choose this or that.

All this is my reality.  Some of it comes from my own unrighteous judgment and some of it just the baggage that comes along with my situation.  I'm not done with my journey with pride and judgment.  I'm still going to have those feelings sometimes.  Yet in acknowledging them and accepting them, I'm more at peace.  It's better than denying them and holding them underwater like floating beach balls.  In honestly accepting them and feeling them...that is when I am able to turn it to the Lord.  I cannot extinguish these feelings of my own accord.

So, I sometimes struggle with pride and judgment, but it's normal.  It's going to be a life-long journey.  If you have ever felt judged by me, I am sorry.  I'm still figuring all this out too...I'm still in my "classroom" of life.  Hopefully, we can become more compassionate toward those who judge.  They're in their own "classroom" as well.