A bunch of girlfriends and I were in a conversation and the subject came up of “That person will never change.”
I remember feeling that way about my dad at a certain point. Where I had come to the conclusion, “He will never change — he’ll always be a (fill in the blank.)”
I was safe inside that conclusion. He couldn’t hurt my feelings there.
And then, he began the process of dying when he was 49 years old and I was 27 — and I realized that my judgment of him hadn’t just kept me safe from his weak parts — it had kept me cold and untouched by his great love for me.
I committed the day he went into a coma on Easter 1995 to not do that again — to not settle for cutting myself off from love, because I was afraid of being hurt. I prayed for a second chance to love — and not judge my dad. I got it that summer. We had a few precious months of talking, laughing, and smoking cigars together before he passed on September 2, 1995.
These are the thoughts that came to me today after that group conversation with my girlfriends.
Maybe it hits home for you, too.
The minute we judge someone,
and we come to a conclusion about them,
we cut ourselves off from loving them.
We do it to feel safe and in control and to lessen our risk of being hurt.
Because when we judge, we don’t have to be in the present moment with them — instead we busy ourselves with being present to the judgment we have about them.
It’s like talking to a piece of paper
instead of talking to a person.
The piece of paper can’t hurt you.
We become stuck to a static conclusion
instead of present and alive to a fluid relationship.
And the minute we come to that judgmental conclusion,
we call them “always” that way,
and “never” going to change.
We are absolutely sure that we don’t ever want to be hurt
so, we put them in the absolute category of ‘always’ and ‘never.’
Once we do that
we come out of living in love with them
and we live in fear of them.
Fear that they will hurt us and that their hurt of us
will be stronger than our ability to heal.
So, Fear judges others.
It feels so unsafe and out of control,
that it makes labels and draws conclusions about life, love and God
in order to feel safe.
Judging is a form of controlling a life that feels out of control.
it mitigates the risk of being hurt.
But life is so much more than avoiding pain.
And you can’t limit pain without limiting life —
You put yourself in some emotional underground bomb shelter
and you feel ‘safe’ but you don’t feel ‘life.’
That isn’t any way to live.
Love is different.
Love lives in possibility.
Love surrenders the right to know, judge and label and instead it says, “I don’t know how to do navigate this.” “This feels weird.” “I feel unsure.”
That honest confession, brings with it an electrifying pulse of risk that is met with trust that “All is well” and “I am strong” and “I am not alone.”
It’s what feeling alive feels like.
It doesn’t need to draw conclusions — it’s to busy living ‘life.’
Love is able to say, “I don’t like this.” instead of “You’re an asshole, and always will be.”
Love is able to say, “Stop, or I will walk away” instead of “Stop, or I’ll hate you forever.”
Love has no interest in judging someone. It doesn’t have time. It’s too busy loving. And it’s too full from how good Love feels when it takes up that space within us.
Love takes responsibility for its own happiness.
Love is willing to risk being hurt for being loved.
Love stays present to the present moment and the person, and the possibility — all at the same time.
It’s a win-win-win.
Do you want to get out of the pattern of judging?
Of coming to all those conclusions you have about people who don’t:
Vote like you
Look like you
Pray like you
Play like you
Spend like you
Talk like you
Walk life like you
Think like you
Believe like you?
It’s not impossible to shift.
Just notice where you’ve come to a conclusion about someone,
recognize where the fear is in you
and make a new commitment:
“I’m willing to see this with love and possibility.”
If that seems too hard — or maybe too simplistic to a complicated relationship — I understand.
None of this exploration is giving someone the right to be horrible to you.
And none of this is about requiring that you stay in a shitty relationship.
You are always free to walk away.
So, it’s not about making you a prisoner when you’re here to be free.
This is about staying open in your heart, even in places where you’ve closed a door in your life.
This is about being present to what is possible instead of projecting the worst-case scenario.
This isn’t about closing your eyes blindly — this is just the opposite. This is about opening your eyes widely so that you can see what’s truly there in front of you, within you, and around you — instead of being so afraid that you hide in the middle of life, the way a three-year old hides in the middle of the living room declaring, “You can’t see me.”
Yes. We can. It’s you who can’t see.
And what’s cute on a three year-old
is debilitating to a 45 year-old.
This is about letting love show you what is real
and really possible.
If you’re ready to live differently, and experience love deeply, there’s a simple question we can ask ourselves, at any time:
Am I willing to be right —
or am I willing to be love?
— Stacey Robbins