Before I had my own children, I questioned the parenting decisions of others, sometimes harshly. I’d become particularly annoyed when a child threw a fit in a public place, like the local supermarket. “If those parents knew how to discipline their child,” I used to think, “they wouldn’t be making a scene.”
Fast forward a few years and now I’m the one with a two-year-old. I’m learning what those poor parents I judged in the supermarket already understood: reasoning with a two-year-old is often a losing battle! No matter how calm I remain or how carefully I try to reason, sometimes my child just needs to release their emotions. Unfortunately, my child isn’t sympathetic to my rising anxiety as we draw unwanted attention from those now judging how I remedy the situation.
Sometimes judging someone is easier than loving them. Assuming the worst about other parents was easy before I became one. It was also easy to assume the best about myself, had I been in their shoes. Instead of judging, Jesus invites us to the hard work of self-examination.
Archibald Macleish once said, “Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves. It is at its worst when it deludes us into thinking we have all the answers for everybody else.”
Self-examination is not easy. It forces us to look inward and face our own demons. It can be messy work. Yet, as we learn to assess our own shortcomings and address them, we also learn to be gracious with ourselves. And as we grow in grace toward ourselves, we naturally become gentler and more patient with others. What kind of world might exist if we started removing the log in our own eye first?
What “logs” do you need to remove from your eyes? How might dealing with those things help you see others in similar situations differently?
Christ, help us to be gracious and patient with ourselves and our neighbors as we travel this journey together. Amen.