I write about this a lot. I do because it is a struggle for me and when I have these insights I like to dwell on them and express them with the hope that it will somehow change my behavior.
I find myself frequently discussing with my husband the choices of others. Recent experiences in my life have called into question the productivity of these discussion. Often it is harmless, just sharing and expressing of opinions. But many times it becomes judgemental and critical. This is what has been eating at me.
I am constantly observing people in my life and analyzing their choices according to what I would do, or what I think they should do. Sadly more often than not I think that my way is the right way. Even if I could be 100% sure that in the same situation I would do what I deem to be the “right” thing, that doesn’t take into account many things. It doesn’t consider the gifts of understanding, faith or character that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. Nor does it account for blessings I have been given regarding the way I was raised or experiences in my life that have shaped me. Of course God expects us to make the right choice no matter these other things, but he will extend mercy according to them. Even with my gifts and blessings I still make mistakes, give in to temptation and become frustrated with my weaknesses. I compare myself to others who were given gifts and blessings to be strong in the areas I am weak. I dearly hope that the Lord will show that same mercy unto me.
It is like the quote says, our view of reality is only our view, not reality itself. My perspective of their choice is exactly that, my perspective. Even should I try and view their choice from their perspective I would be unsuccessful because I have little or no knowledge of their desires, feelings and sorrows.
Only we can know when we point out the mistakes and weaknesses of others if we are doing it in a condemning or judgemental way. Perhaps some are capable of doing it with a heart full of love and mercy. But I haven’t found this to be the case for me. President Monson teaches that even when someone’s weaknesses or errors are clear, “charity impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate and merciful.”
So why is it so hard?
UPDATE: I wrote this post a long time ago and never published it. Then I came across this post (go read the inspiring story) recently and was reminded of these thoughts and decided I’d share them.