There is the story in the Bible about a woman caught in adultery. She is brought semi-clothed to Jesus for judgement by a crowd incensed by their rightness. Judged and already found guilty by those who bring her, their garments clatter with the sound of stones already collected and ready to be thrown. Some perhaps are already clasping their missile. They want to kill her.
We live in a world that increasingly stands in judgement over people. Whether we make our views known on social media, to those around us, or by writing articles to name a few ways. We spin things to maximise their impact and garner allies. We want to make ourselves look bigger, better and boost our own self-esteem. How many of us look at people and hear what they say itching to find fault, to ‘bring them down a peg’, to chip away and diminish them. Metaphorically we are pointing the finger, we have piled up our stones and we are energised and anxious to throw them. Safe and secure in our home we can often feel free to throw all manner of vile things.
Why are we so full of judgement, when the one who is ultimately going to perfectly judge us, would have not one stone on his person, nor any pile near. When Jesus met the adulterous woman he was full of compassion for her. His question to the mob? “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” A question that should cause us all to drop every stone we have ever thought of throwing.
One of the key things that will stop us judging others, stop the need to bring other down, often out of our own insecurity, is to have come to a place where we feel good about ourselves. We are urged to love our neighbours as ourselves and crucially we forget to love ourselves. If we feel good about our body, our relationships, our parenting, our lives and believe we are truly loved as who we are, then it is not judgement that will come out of us rather compassion, empathy and love. As others have said, judging another person does not define who they are, it defines who we are. Often we judge in others the very things we hate in ourselves. “Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.” Will Smith.
Loving ourselves is something to be nurtured. It means allowing our deepest and most vulnerable self to be seen and known. The surprise and delight is that in doing so we can find acceptance, love, kindness and affection.
Ann Clifford writer, dreamer, theatre director, filmmaker