Be Open. Don't Judge
Being open to new ideas, views, and ways of living is so vital for us today. We can’t afford to close our eyes, criticize others, and shut ourselves into our own space. That’s why it’s so important not to judge others. It’s totally okay to judge actions and even have a stance on values. In fact, the ability to judge, to discern between what’s good, helpful, uplifting and what’s bad, detrimental, depressing is actually really important so that we can make successful choices in life.
But it’s never ok to condemn an individual, a child of God. When we condemn or criticize, we not only hurt others, we also hurt ourselves. We create limits; we block ourselves off from learning what others have to teach us. We are unwilling to open up our views and our hearts to experiencing a new perspective that could, quite possibly, positively enrich our lives.
Christine Villaman shares a simple example of how being open to new ways of doing things makes a huge difference.
When we lived in Spain for a year, my family ate at restaurants frequently. It was very different than eating at a restaurant in the U.S. It was much, much slower. My husband will readily admit that eating at restaurants was challenging for him at first. As a restaurant owner, he was always wondering why dinner took three hours. At the beginning, he was constantly thinking about how he could help them turn tables to make more profit. He had to shift gears and think completely differently.
In Barcelona, people actually sit and chat and take their time over a meal. The slower pace allows for connection. And it’s perfectly ok that you’re taking up the table at a restaurant for long periods of time because to them, it would be rude to imply that you must leave. So we learned to see that mealtime is really about connecting with others, taking time for nourishment and refreshment.
Having meals in this way provides us with spiritual nourishment as well, as we share our love and life with one another in a relaxed and unifying setting. I think the people of the early churches and gatherings, which included meals and food, knew the value of this togetherness.
It’s good to know that there are different ways of thinking, that there’s no right or wrong with respect to certain things that are simply cultural. Experiencing such differences makes us more accepting and non-judgmental. I think that’s what Jesus wanted us to be. He said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Judge not that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1). He’s really teaching us not to be critical or condemnatory of other people’s ways, opinions, etc. When we open ourselves to accept other viewpoints we are, in a way, wrapping our arms around all peoples and loving unconditionally. One person at a time, we can bring more peace and love to the world.