Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How Do I Look?

If I'm just staying around home, you might find me with my hair pulled back in a ponytail wearing little or no makeup. I might be wearing a comfy (styleless) T-shirt and shorts that might be a little big and baggy. Now, if I leave home, I do try to represent my family and my self a bit better. I may still be wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but they both fit nicely, match, and are flattering. I'll accessorize with earrings and some cute sandals.

Isn't this always the way? I look (and act) my best when I'm out and have people watching. I've often judged others who I hear speaking inappropriately:
  • the mom struggling to keep her toddler under control at the supermarket
  • spouses who put each other down at a social gathering
  • Christians who gossip and speak hurtful words, sometimes right from the pew

Oh, it's easy to judge, isn't it? Even here at home, I often think about how my husband shouldn't be so harsh or unsympathetic to the kids. But in reality, who speaks out in anger more often? It's definitely me. Who struggles to keep her toddler under control; might be less than encouraging to her husband when in group gatherings; and speak critically about others right from the pew? Me, again.

I have double standards. One for myself--forgiving of all my misdeeds and mis-steps, because I know that I didn't do it on purpose--and one for others who I expect to be all dressed up in their speech and actions when they are in public. I think that I judge people more harshly than myself because I think to myself, "Is that her best T-shirt and her cutest sandals? She's out in public! Is that the best she can do?"

More than once, I've said something impatiently to my daughter out in public, and hoped that I wouldn't be judged by an eavesdropper based on that one mistake. Other times, I hear the even more unguarded, more hurtful words that come out at home, from my baggy shorts and T-shirts, when I'm not under the watchful gaze of society. I think, "What would someone think if they heard that?" It does remind me to be careful not to make judgments about others, based on one harried moment in the supermarket especially.

I know that I have to work on my anger. I know that it's a sin. And despite knowing that I don't do it on purpose, I really do judge myself as well. I know that I have to confess my sin to the person I've wronged, as well as to my Lord. And my daughter is very forgiving. Hearing me apologize teaches her that even grownups can make wrong choices. It also has taught her to catch herself and apologize after she whines or yells. I'm thankful that under His teaching, I now recognize it as a sin. I have far to go, but I've also come a long way. I know that with God's help, He will change me.

Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.


Laura said...

I really appreciate your transparency here! I struggle with judging others too. I've really been praying that God changes my heart and helps me see others how He sees them!

And anger...I once read a quote that said something about how anger is our response to being deprived. Whenever I feel myself start to get angry about something, I stop to think about what I'm feeling deprived of - sometimes I have a right to be upset, but most times, if I'm trying to serve/love my friends, family, home, etc., it means that my deprivation shouldn't matter. It really helps keep me in line and has calmed me down a bit. Sometimes. :)

Thank you for sharing!

Katrina said...

Thanks, Jennifer. This is so true for me as well - it's easy for me to jump to judgement on people I come across in public. But I certainly wouldn't want to be judged by the same standards! I definitely need to work on being more grace-full toward others, as I would hope they are with me.

Dianne said...

That is a good reminder. I've heard it said we tend to compare other's best against our worst, and our best against their worst. So our judgements are skewed from the start. I need to have more grace in how I see other people. Good insightful post today.

Code Yellow Mom said...

That's one of my favorite verses of scripture...It always reminds me of the spirit I want in my life and my home - it's definitely a high bar, but we receive so many blessigns as we try to make even the small improvements in developing love, everyone around us can feel it...

Thanks for being so open and honest here...It's nice to hear someone admit to the struggle. :)

Crystal Breeze said...

Hey Jennifer I think we all are guilty of this. I know today I got on to my oldest son because he took his own money with him to the grocery store to get candy out of the dispensing machines and I was mad because he didn't ask me if he could. Well I had no quarters in my purse for his other brother and sister. I was upset because his other siblings were whinning for candy and now I had to go make things even. After it was done and over with and I was packing groceries away in the trunk I realized that it was just 25 cent candy for goodness sake. I apologized for yelling at him and all was forgiven. You raised an interesting topic in your blog. I enjoy reading your writings.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for the encouraging comments. I really strive to be transparent (actually I'm going to write about that soon). It's easier in the blogosphere than in real life, but the encouragement helps.

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Thanks for sharing this. I sometimes feel justified in my anger because my KIDS are angry (how ridiculous is that!). It's getting better, but there are certain situations that still get me (getting the kids to be late at night, especially if my husband is not home is a biggie). It's a constant battle, and it keeps me on my knees, asking forgiveness of my kids and of God. He is faithful and merciful - surprisingly, kids are very forgiving, too. Amazing.