Judge Not – A Lesson Learned From Cancer

In the scriptures, we are taught to “judge not, lest ye be judged.”  We can never truly understand another person’s struggles.  Each of us is fighting a daily battle – some of our struggles are public, some are private.  Some of our weaknesses are noticeable to others, but some are only between us and God.  My first blog post was about this topic (read it here).

About a year ago, my cousin’s son, Carter, was diagnosed with leukemia.  He has spent the past year in treatment getting chemotherapy and I’ve been following the saga on the Facebook page they set up to keep family and friends informed (you can check it out here).

Courageous Carter Collage

I have been amazed at the grace with which Carter, my cousin, her husband, and their other children have handled this monster trial.  They have been an example to me of the power that comes with true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  I’ve also been touched by the life lessons and testimony building experiences they have shared.  Below is one of my cousin’s posts that really touched my heart.  She shared a post from LDSLiving (pictured below) and then wrote a beautiful and heartfelt post about not judging and having charity in our hearts.

Judge Not Elder Wirthlin

AUG 9, 2017 – RAW MUSINGS – JUDGE NOT (warning, a novel)

If there’s one thing I could change about human nature, it would be judgement. We have to make judgements all the time and hopefully we are making them based on righteous principles. But the final judgement that correlates to people’s actions and their hearts we should always leave to Him who knows all, who knows each individual heart and truth. Am I good at this? Absolutely not, but I will keep trying.

Being in a situation this past year where so much is out of my control, I have thought a lot about this subject. I am learning lessons too. Just a chip off my block in the course of the refining process, I hope.

If you walked into my house last Sunday, here’s what you would have seen with your eyes: a completely cluttered mess. Things on the floor everywhere, crooked and disheveled furniture, full laundry baskets, dishes on the counter and in the sink, crumbs on the floor, bedrooms half organized, and an entry you could barely get through; basically, a place I would have been utterly embarrassed for anyone to walk into.

But what couldn’t you see? You couldn’t see just how badly I wanted it to be clean and organized. Just how much I yearn for cleanliness, for the time to put things back together.

You wouldn’t have seen the hours I spent helping my son because he was in pain and needed me to sit and read to him for distraction, or get this or that for meds, pain, food, or comfort; or the endless times I had to leave the mess to change a diaper, fix food, take a shower or leave for a dr. appointment or the hospital; or to try to squeeze in a grocery trip because we’ve been eating cereal for dinner … again.

You can’t see the feeling of utter exhaustion at the end of the day when I look around me and crave for energy to clean when the kids are finally in bed. How I crave for the organization and cleanliness! but I. just. have. nothing. left.

You wouldn’t have seen the hours we poured into exterminating our house of a random bug infestation that I didn’t have time for, and so we were sleeping on the floor, living out of laundry baskets, and washing and spraying everything in sight for two weeks. And yet because of all this, I’m forced to let the chaos be for another day … after day … after day — so it feels.

Perhaps you saw me at the store with my makeup-less face, and dark circles, wearing sweats or a few extra unwanted pounds. What you couldn’t see was the sleepless nights trying to comfort my toddler who doesn’t sleep well; or the midnight needs of a cancer-stricken child.

My desires certainly do not match my reality most of the time. I function a hundred times better when my surroundings are tidy and organized. Sometimes they are and I love it. Often they are not. I am hoping many mothers of young children can relate. Sometimes my sanity has to take precedence over nagging my children a hundred times to help out more.

Years ago at the end of a particularly rough day when my boys were little, I went to a nearby Taco Bell to get dinner and a breath of fresh air. At the checkout my card wasn’t working for some reason. I had no cash. With anxious children in tow, stares and frustration in the line behind me, my stress mounted, caving in on me. I could have melted right there.

Instead, I will never forget the kindness of the man behind me, who instead of judging, became my angel that day. He couldn’t have known the hardships of that day for me, but his heart saw past the stress of that moment and he kindly paid my bill and sent me on my way with a heart full of gratitude for that tender mercy. I’ll never forget it.

People usually never forget traumatic events. Even better though, people never forget great acts of charity, kindness and love. “The greatest form of charity may be to withhold judgment.” (Jean B. Bingham)

It is an inward struggle for me to have kind friends come to help and serve, when I wish they were walking into a tidy and clean house; yet I have to swallow my pride and humbly accept that they will see part of my reality however messy it is at the moment. (But as hard as it is I am ever grateful for their kindness)

Have you ever been in a grocery line and seen someone less fortunate spending money on something YOU thought they shouldn’t? Maybe it was ice cream or another pleasure and you silently made a judgement? I know I have. I also know I don’t want to. Or have you ever been to a service project to help someone move or clean and felt like you had walked onto the hoarders show?

There are so many situations, so many opportunities to judge. But maybe, just maybe (and most likely) their day, their life, just needs a little ice cream at that moment, or a smile, or a touch of kindness instead. What they need, what we all need, is the heart to see beyond the limitations of our eyes.

Living with cancer touching my life this past year, I have been forced to let go in some ways. I’ve had to essentially focus on what is most important and give up a lot of what I wish I had more control over. I am convinced this situation happens to a lot of people in various circumstances. There is only so much we can see on the surface. And oh there is so much more that we cannot see! I am learning this truth in a very real way. Maybe I’m too prideful, but whatever the case is, I hope the next time I am tempted to judge anyone that I will replace that judgmental thought with compassion and kindness, and with understanding and empathy; with heartfelt vision that sees people the way Christ sees all of us.

1 Samuel 16 7

The scriptures teach us to “judge not, lest ye be judged.” Oh how my heart understands this truth so much better. We can never know another’s full story.

I guess this is part of why we are here on earth. To learn to love the way Christ loves us. The first and second commandments, to love God and our fellowman. To follow his example and just keep trying. To see the divine hidden under the shell of human nature. To mourn with others, to lift and build each other up, and to “look up” not down.

I am so grateful for dear friends and family who amazingly, despite my weaknesses and imperfections, see with their hearts and have been there for us unconditionally in our time of need. It takes a Christ-centered person to do that. I hope I can develop more of that kind of nature. And the next time I see a homeless person, a worn-out mother, a child’s tantrum, a less-active church friend, a failed relationship, a stranger’s addiction or weakness, or a physically or mentally diseased individual, that I will think and act with the lenses of charity.

May we all begin to use the lens of charity.  People need love, kindness and service.  We can’t see the impact of some physical ailments, the debilitation of mental and emotional disorders, and the struggles people face.  Only God knows their hearts and it’s our job to love and serve.

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