Judging and Being Judgmental

Judging and Being Judgmental

Judging is essential to a well-lived life. Cathy and I raised our children based on our best judgment. We chose to keep a tighter rein than most New York parents. Years later our children told us our judgment was flawed. We listened carefully and concluded they were right. We apologized. Exercising good judgment is one of the most important responsibilities of parenting.

On the other hand, being judgmental is not essential to any kind of life. Being judgmental occurs when inaccurate information ignites fear. It is often based on misunderstanding, innuendo, and prejudice. History would suggest it has always been a part of the human condition.

E. O. Wilson is the sociologist who first suggested the critical social unit for humans is not the nuclear family, but the tribe. Wilson studied ants and found great similarities between these six-legged picnic invaders and we humans. Both need a community to survive.   But Wilson noted an unfortunate difference between ants and humans. Ants do not believe they need an enemy to hold the tribe together. Humans do. The difference could spell our downfall as a species.

It is frightening to see how quickly we demonize those unlike us. We are astounded at the outlandish beliefs held about Christians by members of the Islamic State. Their information is so patently wrong it would be laughable were it not for the real threat they pose to our safety. We see the sizeable splinter in their eye, but do we see the log in our own? To be sure, we are not beheading anyone, but that does not stop us from being judgmental in our own civilized way.

A lot of Evangelicals are upset I changed genders. When the information became public, I figured people had one of two options. They could either reexamine their view of what it means to be transgender, or they could assume they had been wrong about my character all along. I was more than a little disappointed with the number who chose the later option. Their judgmental spirit was painful to endure. But if I am honest, in the past year I have had my own issues with a judgmental spirit.

After transitioning I kept saying, “I’m still here. I’m still me.” I was frustrated people could not see I was the same person. I was judgmental toward those who could no longer see Paul in me. I was unreasonably critical of their inability to see the soul of Paul was present and accounted for. With time to reflect, however, I realized I too was working with inaccurate information that ignited fear. These people were not necessarily rejecting me. They just needed time and space to process difficult information. Additionally, I did not understand how much I have indeed changed, in both appearance and personality, and how difficult that has been for many.

I asked questions and I listened. When it came to feelings, these people who felt abandoned by Paul were the experts. They knew how they felt. Together we worked toward understanding. As usual, Cathy and my children and their spouses were particularly wise and helpful.

Finding the balance between judgment and being judgmental is difficult for all of us. But here is the thing. God is not encountered in a spirit of angry judgment.  God is encountered in the thin places, and the thin places are surrounded by love, generosity and kindness.  They are nowhere to be found when you harbor a judgmental spirit. While residing there I certainly did not hear the voice of God. I heard only my own angry voice, full of sound and fury.

No one avoids being judgmental. The best I can hope for is to remain there for as short a time as possible. Until I can see the very specific log in my own eye, anything approaching objectivity will be elusive. The only way to nurture an irenic spirit is to be open to challenge, eager to listen, and committed to discernment.  That is how the deep wisdom arrives.

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7 thoughts on “Judging and Being Judgmental

  1. always have been amazed by your ability to put your thoughts into such beautiful words. Such a gift. Always your friend. Nancy

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  2. Paula, exceptionally well-written, both in form and content. OK, so I had to look up the meaning of the word “irenic”….but I won’t let that affect my giving you 5 stars!! This is an issue for all of us to deal with, regardless of the issues at hand. Thank you so much for presenting this with such vulnerability and objectivity; that’s not easy to accomplish.

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  3. Glad to hear that you can understand how difficult this is for others to understand — I am following your journey and listening to your story — l don’t understand but still listening

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  4. Thank you Paula for this wonderful lesson. So rich in content and clarity on a subject ( judging) that I can apply in my journey.
    Onward and upward!

    Phil

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  5. If I had to describe this blog in one word I would say searching. You claim that you have finally identified with the real you,but from what I am able to read and gather you’re still searching. As a pastor or former one I assumed you would have more scripture backing your analysis of gender truths,but you don’t.Instead I see someone who is continually searching for acceptance,identity and how to stay spiritually linked while embarking on a transgender journey,that a part of you knows goes against God.

    In fact many of your conclusions indicate you’re not even sure if your life is going to turn out the way you want it to despite your change. All in All it seems like transitioning wasn’t the answer but rather the enlargement of a question mark that still ponders in your thoughts.Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.(John 14:6)

    You’ve probably read this verse several times,but have you really thought about it.You say transitioning is the way to freedom, God says I am the way.No one struggling with transgender issues has to commit suicide,get surgery or force everyone to agree with them to be happy. All they have to do is submit their desire to be the opposite sex to God,believe in God,submit to God’s ways and truly repent. God will free you,fill you and fulfill you. He can and will deliver you, but you have to want to be delivered.You have to see this for what is sin and rebellion against God.

    You’re saying I hate the way God made me so I’m going to change it.God doesn’t make mistakes and God is the only way to true liberation. If you were truly a woman than God would have made you one.This is a lie from the devil himself that has been whispering in your ear from a young age.In (John 10:10 Jesus said that I come that you might have life more abundantly, the devil comes to steal,kill and destroy. The devil wants to steal your identity,God wants to give you one,the devil wants to kill you,God wants you to save you,the devil wants to destroy everything you’ve accomplished God’s wants to rebuild it so that you’ll truly accomplish his plan he has for your life. (Jeremiah 29:11)

    Transgender surgery may change the outside but inside you’re still xy,but God changes you from the inside out. I encourage you who have spend most of your life knowing of God, to get to truly get to know God personally. There are no verses that approve of transgender therefore how can you truly be right with God,how can you be sure and confident God approves of this,how can you be sure this will not keep you from entering heaven.Are you willing to be separated from God in life and for eternity for an identity issue that God is willing to help you overcome? I love you and hope you learn to love yourself for who God made you to be a wonderful fearfully made male. God loves you and so do I.

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    • Thank you for your comment and your concern. As for John 14, do you know why Jesus said those words? Do you know the context and background? It was the complexity of life Jesus was acknowledging, not its simplicity. And to suggest I only know of God but do not know him personally, well, does anything about that sound maybe the tiniest bit condescending?

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    • Paula,
      When you say, “We are astounded at the outlandish beliefs held about Christians by members of the Islamic State.” do you mean that some of them believe that some citizens of the USA want our troops to kill everybody in Iraq and Afghanistan? Oops, actually that is what a respected member (and retired pastor) attending my church said during an official church class explaining to me a few fine points of dogma. Yea, if I were them I’d be afraid, very afraid.

      PS to Proverb Sister
      There are those days when I feel that I just don’t have enough hatred in me to be a good Christian.

      PPS to Paula S W
      I think I’ll listen to the True Sounds Of Liberty. Sort of where I am now. Best wishes to you and yours.

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