CAROLINE WATKINS: Put Down The Stone

Caroline Watkins
Caroline Watkins

This title seemed to be a bit more appealing title than “Here Comes the Judge,” the one I had planned to use. Not to mention that a number of readers weren’t even born when comedian Flip Wilson made this line famous.

Once again other column topics were percolating, including but not limited to, our current presidential election but I figured enough people are writing about THAT.

By the way my only decision has been to cast a vote no matter how difficult. I am “simply” praying for wisdom and discernment in this area and for the ability to see the truth, not matter how thinly veiled or heavily blanketed.

Nevertheless, I settled on “Put Down the Stone” after watching a short video by Glennon Doyle Melton which had the same title. In it she discusses the parable about Jesus, a woman and the Pharisees who wanted to stone her for her sexual sin. Jesus asks those who are without sin to cast the first stone. This is not unlike his admonition to the disciples about taking the log out of their own eyes before “noticing” a speck in others’.

And we do it every single day . . .notice the specks. Judge, condemn, blame. I’ve heard that blame is a way of discharging our own pain and discomfort. And condemning which seems to go hand-in-hand with judging?

I am sure I do it far more than I am willing to admit, but all I can say is that it feels really bad when you’re on the receiving end of it. Especially when others don’t have all the information nor have they walked in your shoes – and especially when they are talking about you to others instead of coming to you directly.

There is something to be said for speaking the truth in love to someone else. The operative word here is “to” not “about.” Speaking the truth about someone doesn’t necessarily make it better than speaking lies if it puts him/her in a bad light. Bring your grievance to your brother, sister, friend, parent, spouse. And remember your flaws and yes, sins are not necessarily “better” than theirs.

As a counselor once told me: everyone is doing the best they can with the internal and external resources they have. And as per Plato (apparently), everyone is fighting some kind of battle. You have no idea about theirs nor the pain it has caused, pain which we all try to numb – and hide.

One of the best things I’ve read on this subject is what Glennon writes in her most recent book, Love Warrior: “… Every time anger or fear or loneliness started bubbling up, I reached for an easy button – a book, a binge, a beer, a body, a shopping spree, a Facebook feed – to shove it back down.” She ran away from pain like we all do at times and had a beautiful revelation about this response, which she refers to as “transporting:”

“What if the transporting is keeping me from transformation? What if my anger, my fear, my loneliness were never mistakes but invitations? What if in skipping the pain, I was missing my lessons? Instead of running away from my pain, was I supposed to run toward it? Perhaps pain was not a hot potato after all, but a traveling professor. Maybe instead of slamming the door on pain, I need to throw open the door wide and say, Come in. Sit down with me. And don’t leave until you’ve taught me what I need to know.”

I love that but what does it all have to do with judging? I think judging is way for us to not deal with our own pain by focusing on someone else’s questionable decision, lesser character, different path, “worse” sin.

So stop it! (Note to self)

Let’s ALL put down our stones, see ourselves in the light of truth, make adjustments to our own behavior and seek to understand – before trying to be understood. Harder than it sounds, I know. I also know it’s easier to tell yourself to do something positive than stop doing something negative. The extension of this would be to do what Brene Brown teaches: “Start making ‘generous assumptions’ about others.” Or at least give it a try.

When we do, the prisoner that’s set free is not so much the other person as it is us . . .

I guarantee it.

Caroline Watkins