I heard a great story in Relief Society yesterday. I ALWAYS hear great stories there, but yesterday’s dirty laundry story still has me chuckling, probably because I could readily recognize so much truth in it.

Michelle’s story was borrowed from Saturday’s General Women’s Broadcast from Salt Lake City, and it went something like this:  A young woman looked out her window at her neighbor’s laundry hanging on the line and began making little snippy remarks about how dirty it still was. Days went by, and still the neighbor didn’t learn how to probably clean her dirty laundry. Hadn’t she heard of bleach?  Was she using some kind of cheap detergent? Worse yet was the fact that everyone had to see the dingy towels hanging on the clothes line.

One day Susie Homemaker woke up and noticed that the laundry looked different. It was clean, practically sparkling in the early morning sunlight.  Delighted, she mentioned that her neighbor had finally learned how to get her family’s clothes clean and asked her husband to take a look. Glancing out the window, her husband remarked (a paraphrase), “Oh, I forgot to mention that I got up extra early this morning, and since I had some time, I cleaned our windows.”  You’ve got to love that story!

Michelle then went into five reasons why people judge, none of which make it acceptable. As I listened to her lesson, I remembered a recent talk I heard about guidelines to judging. I know that sounds contrary to the way this post has been heading, but hang tight. It makes sense to me, and I hope it will to you.

Our judging is intermediate. Only God determines a person’s final judgment. In the meantime, there are numerous occasions when we have to make intermediate judgments. For instance, if you’re buying clothes, reading a book, or watching movie, you’re making assessments about quality. Is that judging or just assessing? Are they the same or different? As a teacher, I make constant (or so it seems) judgments about student work.  Is it average, exceptional, or just okay?

Our judging should be guided by the Spirit, not malicious or hateful or catty. Do you truly know what’s in another’s heart? Do you know the whole story? Are you giving the other person the benefit of the doubt? Are you judging in love and charity? My brother-in-law Allen says to always think the best of the people you love, and I’ve recently revised that to “always think the best of everyone.”

Our judging should be within our own stewardship. As a parent, you have the responsibility to exercise judgment in a constructive manner. If your child wants to wear tattoos or immodest clothing, it’s not my right to say anything to them about it, but with my own children, I still (although they are young adults) advise them in loving ways. God gave them to me, and I don’t think I’m ever free of that awesome stewardship.

Our judging should be done with adequate knowledge of the facts.  So often, we spout off about something or someone when we really are quite ignorant about the true situation. What appears to you to be disinterest could be distress or depression. 

This post is getting a bit lengthy, so I’ll just close by saying that the reminder to “judge not that ye be not judged” is absolutely true! People are judging you and me just the way we’re judging them.

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