May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so I thought this post would be fitting.
I’ve struggled with bouts of depression and was diagnosed a few years back with PTSD caused by my abusive ex-husband. I’ve known numerous people who struggle with depression, as well as manic episodes. I’ve known people who have committed suicide because they saw no other way out of the situation they were in.
The more I look around these days, the more mental well-being seems to be declining. Mass shootings and suicides are plastered all over the news. Over prescribing pain meds and antidepressants are on the rise. It’s almost become a way of life. We have to stop fighting over gun laws and not engage each other in, “I’m right, you’re wrong” fights and start fighting the unrelenting monster called mental illness.
Why are there so many school shootings? Why are more than one out of three Americans on painkillers? Why is it that one out of six Americans is on antidepressants? These percentages far surpass those in other countries. I don’t have the answers, but believe we have to find them.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
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
Anyone regularly reading this blog knows I step in every now and then to add a post or two. Usually this occurs after an in-depth conversation with Linda over life and all the crazy it dishes. So here I am, taking over the blog this morning after one such conversation.
It’s very easy to assume things of another person. Assumption rears its head in my life every so often and I am sure it does in many of our readers, and it’s frustrating for anyone to face. For me, I’ve been called a“bad influence” on Linda. A bad influence means something or someone is teaching others to do wrong or to make them have bad thoughts about someone, encouraging wrong actions and thoughts by example.
This would be a gross assumption, and for the life of us (and others who know us) Linda and I cannot figure out why that idea was created, yet there it is. It sinks my heart to know such ideas are out there. When I recently asked Linda why she thought this judgement existed she replied:
“Because you encouraged me to be independent.”
That was a powerful and humbling thing to hear her say. “Can’t” shouldn’t be anyone’s vocabulary. The only thing I ardently believe she can’t do on her own is put her hair up in a dang ponytail.
So why judge others? Why attach labels and shove our assumptions in front of fact, thought, and reason? Assumption is a taking to or upon oneself to know what is true and right according to what one needs or wants to hear.
We judge because internally we find a weakness in ourselves. Instead of maturely addressing our shortcomings and insecurities we take it out on others. Instead of getting to know people so we form opinion based on hard core fact, we assume we know all, put up walls, and look away. Often, those we abuse by wrongful judgment do not deserve the mistreatment.
A habit of not addressing our flaws by casting judgment on others is a hard one to break.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ~Matthew 7:3
Our instinct when judged may be a rush to defend ourselves. That’s an equally hard habit to break. I admit I’d love to write a blog defending myself, listing to the world all the reasons as to why I believe I am not a “bad influence,” but I’ve learned, through very hard lessons, that there is a time and place for true defense. In the end God knows my intentions. He is my judge; the Holy Spirit will convict me.
Reflecting on what caused this blog, my feelings of anger, outrage, and being hurt have dissipated into pity toward the one who assumes so much about me. I wish habits of judgement and assumption could change. It’s terribly hard to look at the world through scratched lenses. I’ve lived like that and it really sucks, and I know Linda’s lived like that as well. Together we know how painful it is to compare oneself to others, to ignore our hurts and hang-ups and to be in such denial of what makes us human…
If judged, pray for the person judging you. Pray that God softens hearts to vulnerability. It’s good to be vulnerable. I will always defend Linda, of course! If anyone wants to get to her they will have to go through me. That’s a little life disclaimer! Forgive those who cast judgment because God first forgave you.
That doesn’t change my opinion of the circumstances or situations I’m in, but does polish my glasses with empathy.