"If you judge people you have no time to love them."  Mother Theresa.

My heart has had a heavy week and I have found myself continuously thinking about people in my life and judgements that I have passed over the years. (This is not something I'm proud of.)  We all have opinions and standards that we apply in our lives.  Sometimes we have criteria that we absolutely believe in- but we don't always practice them.  In the past I've been tripped up questioning why people in my life weren't living by my standards and didn't share my opinions (how narcissistic is that....seriously).  Much of the time I believe that as loving people our standards and opinions for not only our lives, but those around us come from a place of love.  I truly believe that most people don't intentionally try to pass judgement just to be malicious- but sometime our intentions fail us and how we act is hurtful to others.  

We may not understand how someone is living their life.  We may want better for them.  We may even see more potential in them than they see in themselves.  They may not be able to help it.  You and I don't walk in their shoes.  Their pain could transcend everything that we have 'seen' on the outside.  It could be such a deep rooted corruption in their very being that stopping their behavior, curbing that addiction, quitting their binging, trying to eat (whatever their issue is) probably requires an enormous tool box- and they may only have a screwdriver.  

Before I had kids I had this beautiful friend who had a gorgeous small daughter.  We spent quite a bit of time together.  One time, in particular, the three of us were in the car driving through our cute little town.  About a block from us we saw those shiny golden arches.  They light up the sky!  This sweet girl couldn't pass those arches without wanting to go in every time!  (I mean seriously-those fries are tempting.)  My friend obliged her daughter often because it made her happy.  I remember thinking to myself "my two year old will NEVER know what McDonalds is."  (YOUNG AND DUMB)  Yep-I passed judgment.  GUESS WHAT- my two year olds totally knew what it was.... you know why?  IT OCCASIONALLY KEPT THEM QUIET! (Same reason my beautiful friend introduced it to her darling daughter.)  I was just too narrow minded to think past the fact that I thought it was so bad for her (which it was for my kids too) AND that I could do it better.  (I feel ashamed just typing this.)  I DIDN'T do any better-and guess what we were both doing the best we could at the time.  I was judging my dear friend-without walking in her shoes.  I didn't have kids.  I wasn't a new mom.  I wasn't trying to gain any peace and quiet in my day... I had it.  

The thing is-we may not have the same struggles/or endure similar circumstances as our friends.  We may not understand their battles at all.  Guess what- they probably don't understand ours (we all have them-so let's not pretend we don't).  When we allow our minds to make that judgment call instead of empathetically caring for that person we are doing them and OURSELVES a great disservice.  We all carry our issue suitcase with us.  Some people carry their suitcase's neatly packed, closed tight, locked with their name tag clearly attached.  The presentation is beautiful. Others carry their's with clothes in balled heaps, with the zipper half open- everything falling out for the world to see with each step they take.  The only difference is what it looks like to the outside world.  One looks put together and neatly packaged, while the other looks messy and chaotic.  The 'stuff' inside is still the same.  

Love is not always enough.  Some peoples tool box's are so depleted (because the tools were never in the box to begin with) that they can't fix the simple things things that you and I see as the no brainers.  Most people don't want to self destruct- in fact I'll go out on a limp here- NOBODY wants to self destruct.  The people in our lives that we KNOW or that we know of (big case/little case) that are hurting themselves and in turn hurting all of those around them that care- aren't purposefully trying to cause pain or asking you and I to tell them what's wrong with them.... THEY KNOW.  They don't know how to fix it.  Doing what they've always done is what they KNOW how to do.  Guess what- you and I passing judgement their way- doesn't keep them from going to McDonalds...if I really didn't want my friend to give in to the golden arches I should have packed a turkey sandwich.

What I'm really starting to  believe is that it's easier for us to pass judgement than to do anything.  All I had to do while judging her was ride with her through the drive thru- I didn't have to get the bread out and make the sandwich- or better yet invite them over to have them make it with me.  That would have taken my money, time and effort.  If we aren't willing to put the effort into helping fill up the tool box to fix the problems than we should really be judging the one looking back at us in the mirror instead of the one that only had the screwdriver to begin with.