Friday, April 1, 2016

Casting Judgment

from Google        
        He’d been attending the same meeting for years. It’d almost become habitual. He’d pull into the parking lot, slide his small car into the same space closest to end, then walk the short distance to the red-bricked building. He’d enter the building, take a quick look at himself in the reflection of the glass of the church’s bulletin board to make sure his long hair wasn’t a complete mess, and then he’d find a seat near one of the small, slow-moving ceiling fans. The room got stuffy with so many people crammed in it. It seemed to get more crowded with each passing month. After a few minutes, he’d flip to a favorite passage in his green book and wait for the meeting to begin.
         Habitual. Almost. He made sure it didn’t become too much of a pattern, otherwise he’d fall victim to stagnation again. Been there done that, as they say. Got the slips to prove it. He glanced around the room and raised a hand at a few people he recognized.
         Wednesday church services were in full swing by the time the SAA meeting started. Sometimes they could hear the choir sing an upbeat song while the SerenityPrayer was read. Other nights, like tonight, it was easy to forget there was a church service in progress on the other side of the building. It was easy to contribute all those cars in the parking lot to the men and women seated in the chairs around him nodding their heads in agreement with what was being said by the person sharing.
         So, when there were a few moments of silence as people reflected over Jackie’s share, that’s exactly what Devin had done. Forgotten about the church service. Until he the reminder slapped him in the face moments later.
         He excused himself so he could use the rest room and headed out into the hallway. He came upon a group of men and women looking at the bulletin board he himself was looking at not long before.
         One of the women pointed a finger at a sheet of paper behind the glass and said, “I can see why they let the AA people in here, even the NA people, but those SAA men? They’re a bunch of perverts!”
         “I know! I called Pastor John but he refuses to listen. Bunch of child molesters is what they are!” said another woman.
         “It isn’t just men, you know,” said the man standing beside the two women, “I’ve seen women go in that side door too. It’s disgusting because you know they’ve got to have kids at home. What kind of mother’s must they be?”
         “It’s a disgrace,” said the last woman, “I think we should complain again. Get them out here. I don’t want them in the building the same time as us.”
         Devin’s heart sank at their words. He took a deep breath, and then let it out slowly as he walked past them and quietly opened the door to bathroom. Never had he been more grateful to have a lock on a door. He looked himself in the mirror and reminded himself that he wasn’t a monster. That these people didn’t know any better and that in their position he probably would have thought the same ignorant thoughts too. He couldn’t be mad at them.
         He needed to have understanding and compassion for them and hope that one day they would take the time to educate themselves on the people who sought refuge in their church rather than judge them.
         After a few minutes, Devin was calm enough to go back to the meeting again. He called his wife on the way home and shared what he had overheard and processed his feelings with her. She was proud of how he handled himself. He showed true recovery that day. He showed true empathy.

(inspired by true events)

        Have you ever judged someone to quickly?

43 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I think we've all been guilty of judging someone too quickly at one time or another. It's always a good lesson when we learn that we were too hasty in our bad opinions, isn't it?

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    1. Yes. I was way too judgmental before all this happened in our lives. It's funny how humbled I've become. Good to have some humility now. :)

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  2. If anyone answers "no" to your question I'd say they aren't being honest OR they simply don't know themselves very well. Or maybe they're two years old (literally), in which case they are very smart to be able to read this blog.

    I think there are many reasons we fall down, but one of the biggest might be that we need to change our point of view.

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    1. I agree. It took me many years to realize I was even judging people. I had to see that people were judging me and then I saw that I was also judging people in return. Funny how that works. Judge lest thee be judged.

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  3. We've all been quick to judge. There are things we feel we're above.
    Shameful what those people said. Devin and the others are there to get help and do better. They aren't there having orgies in the church! They are in the best place for anyone with a sin problem. Which ultimately, we all have in one form or another...

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    1. Yeah, it really hurt his feelings initially and it took him a few minutes to get over it but he did and that's the important thing. He understood where they were coming from because he knew if he wasn't walking the path he was, he'd be thinking the same thing, "what a bunch of freaks and pervs" and that's just a shame. But yes, we all live with sin.

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  4. I have been looking around our work and wondering why it is that the Christians there- myself of course included- sometimes are the last people you would pick out of the crowd as being Christians. Sometimes it's hard to tell the truly faithful from the CINOs. Let him know at least ONE Christian knows why he's there, and appreciates his efforts.

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    1. Exactly, Chris. In name only, it's a shame. It's like the people with the bumper stickers on their car that read, "Peace" or "Love" or "Unite" and they're the first ones to flip you off in traffic. I'll pass along your message to him. I know that he will appreciate it greatly. Thank you, from both of us.

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    2. Elsie, I linked your story to my Sunday message. It will be up 8 AM EDT Sunday, providing the great and powerful Blogger doesn't mess up.

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    3. Thank you, Chris. I'll be looking for it tomorrow morning. I shared your comment with Devin. It really warmed his heart. It meant a lot.

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  5. Wow, that's such an awful thing to say about a recovery group. I can be quick to judge sometimes, sure, but I usually keep it to myself because well, I'm not a huge dick. Also, kudos to Devin for showing such restraint. In that situation, that's always the best way to handle yourself. I have a short fuse and a big mouth, so if I had witnessed this I imagine it would have gone something like this.

    Woman: "They’re a bunch of perverts!"
    Me: "Yeah, and I bet you've gargled on a few dicks in your day too, you old bat."

    Okay, so, let me make an amendment to my past statement. I'm not a huge dick unless it's warranted.

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    1. Yeah, I'm super proud of him for not saying anything to them that he would've regretted...especially because they were seasoned citizens. And, well, it was a church that donates their space for a small contribution so, yeah, he showed great restraint. My hope is that maybe, just maybe they realized he was from the group, caught themselves talking smack and had to take their own inventories and who knows? Maybe they'll educate themselves. One can hope.

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  6. I tend to only judge, at least on an ongoing basis, the kinds of people in churches who spend their time judging others. That's probably because I grew up with those people and, really, they will never take the time to educate themselves. They dwell in a culture of ignorance, and it's hard to have your eyes opened when your busy squeezing them shut.

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    1. I couldn't agree with you more on this, Andrew. I had to leave a church I was attending because the people were talking trash about the other people. I thought it was completely inappropriate. Of all places to talk about other people? Church? Really? That was when I decided I didn't need to go to church to show God my faith. He knows I have it.

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  7. I have judged many a time, most times I'm right as I can tell by watching how some people are and whether or not I'd get along with them. But that is for the individual person compared to me. As many like that bitch of a woman above I'd push in the nearest ditch if I had to deal with them daily. I keep my opinion to myself though most times, as a few times I have been wrong. But judging a group or something? Yeah, rarely do that. Trying to get help and do better isn't something to judge.

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    1. Right, I don't think it's fair to lump an entire group of people together and label them as one way or another. All addicts aren't the same. All republicans aren't the same. All democrats aren't the same. All cats aren't the same. All dogs aren't the same. But my dogs are the best. For that I am certain, just as I am certain the cat is the biggest pain in all the land!!

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  8. I try hard not to judge but if someone is my enemy, I absolutely judge. Sorry that happened to Devin.

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    1. I've learned through the course of all this that even those that were once my enemy, I have found compassion. Most bizarre thing to have happened to me.

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  9. I used to until I worked in the security services!

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  10. I am not surprised at all because human beings can be awfully cruel.they don't seem to realize that if they are there for their own addiction and have been judged that they are behaving like the same people who judged them. I wonder if those people ever got it. Devon knew how to rise above this crap...good for him.

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    1. Exactly, Birgit. It's hard for some people to be empathetic until they are put in that position. As I've said, I really hope and pray they've had time to reflect over what they said and maybe learned a little about the addiction the past couple of weeks. Devin really did rise above. I'm proud of him for it.

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  11. I do it more often than I'd like to admit. I usually hate myself for doing it.

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    1. I catch myself doing it and mentally have to stop myself. It's tough.

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  12. It's unfortunate to see someone trying to get help for their condition and then get treated like that. Devin should file a complaint.

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    1. Devin and I talked about it. Initially he was going to let it go but after some thought, he may talk to the church after all. What if it had been a newbie to the program and they heard those remarks? That person would never come back to the group because they could be too ashamed or embarrassed. It really could've hurt someone's recovery. Luckily Devin is a seasoned recovery member.

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  13. Hi Elise - I'm afraid I do judge people quite quickly and am often mentally rebuffed and chide myself shortly afterwards. I try not to ... and put my best foot forward and reasonableness all the time - as I can always walk away if I can't get any rapport going. But I don't judge so many things now-a-days ... great post though .. cheers Hilary

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    1. It's always good to put your best foot forward. I try but don't always succeed. I'm far from perfect. I'm the same, if I can't get good any kind of connection going, I walk away. That's the best thing to do. No need to fake it! Have a wonderful weekend Hilary!

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  14. What happened to the line in the Bible that says "Don't judge lest ye be judged?" Or the one about "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?" Holier-than-thou Christians make the rest of us look so bad.

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    1. I have to remind myself that everyone is fighting a battle we don't know about. Perhaps they are too? Devin has decided to contact the church to see if they can talk to the congregation about the addiction and let them know that they aren't bad people, they are sick people. Maybe that will help.

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  15. I think we are all guilty of judging people despite our own ignorance at some point or another. What these people failed to realize is that the meeting goers are people who recognized a problem and are seeking help to fix it.

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    1. That's a very good point, Jaclyn. The people attending the meeting are those that realized they needed the help and are smart enough to seek it and not try to do it all alone. I'm hoping that I will be able to write an update on this in a few weeks and say that they educated the congregation. That'd be awesome!

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  16. I think pretty much everyone has at some point judge others, I know I have although I try not to judge but I also know I have it is human nature, I am not proud of judging others which is why I really do try not to.

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    1. It's hard not to judge people at some point or another. I cannot tell you how many times I would see someone in a heavy metal band or rap band and think they wouldn't be smart because they have tattoos or piercings and then when I hear them in an interview, they end up being super smart! That'll teach me!!

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  17. I don't think so, but I'm sure I have. Still, it's wrong. And I SHOULD feel guilty about it.

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  18. I don't think so, but I'm sure I have. Still, it's wrong. And I SHOULD feel guilty about it.

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  19. I appreciate the perspective of another person experiencing it Elsie ~ I try not to be judgmental, certainly before I have all the answers ~ But I have been guilty many times, I know ~ Have a good week ~

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  20. It’s very difficult and impossible to judge someone without any knowledge about them and just by look and intention in common. Tolerance is a most rewarding thing in the world and it teaches us so much and one who could reach that stage make things possible. This is a great step in recovery and hope he quite out.

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  22. It's something that really saddens me that Christians especially tend to be the most judgmental of the lot. I'd like to think I'm not judgmental. I try not to be. But flawed thinking isn't something one easily catches unless the mistake somehow affects them personally.

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  23. Sorry his feelings were hurt but sadly, this probably won't be the last time. We cannot change others though, but we can change our own outlooks and ideals.

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  24. So sad when people judge like that, isn't it?? It actually makes me really angry.

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  25. We all have bias and we all judge people on a regular basis... every day. When people now say "I'm not judgemental" I worry - what are they hiding? Most importantly to themselves. Judgements are something that often is conditioned into us by upbringing or society at large. Sometimes the judgement is a defence mechanism - there I go again since my reading of that conversation in my head joining dots I have created with only a third hand account to base it on is that some of those people have problems with their own sexual desires and therefore the real reason they want that group not there is so they can assuage their inner feelings of guilt no doubt instilled through years of doctrine from religion and the company they keep.

    But I know I am judgemental and I have to acknowledge it - I know I'm really judgemental about those who are overtly sexist or racist. That's something I have to deal with - I acknowledge it, let my mind make that judgemental bit and then try my best to work through it.

    I heard a great bit of advice from a female activist a while ago that I loved. "Recognise your own bias but then don't live up to the stereotypes you identify with". Great advice - hard to live

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.