Thursday, December 19, 2013

On "Feeling Judged"

This year, so many of the Catholic blogs are talking about the "right way" to celebrate Advent and Christmas.  I've enjoyed the discussions going on because they are questions that I've been really pondering myself.  But in the past week or so, I've come across various comments around the web [do people say "the web" anymore?] that express extreme distaste over all this, and the belief that there's entirely too much "judging" going on. 

Some people also accused me of making them "feel judged" by my post about Christmas cards (and on reflection, I do understand why).  At first I got distressed about having unintentionally hurt people's feelings...but then I got pretty irritated.

"Why can't I express any opinion whatsoever without SOMEONE getting all up in arms and accusing me of making them "feel judged"?  Whatever that means," I vented to my husband.  "What the heck am I supposed to write about on my blog, if I can't share what I think about anything?!"

I've been reflecting on this issue a lot.  I want to say that ideally, when encountering someone's opinions which differ from your own, there would be two options:
1. You decide that their arguments are incorrect, and you still hold to your original opinion.  Since you believe the other party to be wrong, you don't really care whether or not they "judge you."
2. You think they may have some good points, and either change your mind or at least decide to think it over more.

But real life and real people often don't work this way. Especially when the conversation is happening over the lamentably deficient medium of the internet.

My intention when I share an opinion on my blog is not to belittle anyone who may think differently, but just to say "hey, I've been really consumed with this idea lately, and I've been having all these intriguing thoughts...maybe one of them will resonate with you, or you'll have something new to add!"  And my hope is that when I share an idea that someone disagrees with, they will respond, "well, based on this and this, I think your conclusion is incorrect" rather than "wow, you're being really judgmental." 

As far as discerning the proper way to celebrate Advent and Christmas - or any other issue related to the Faith - I fully believe that most of us are sincerely trying to figure out how best to please God.  And different families have different needs, and they may arrive at different conclusions as to what is right for them.  And I think this is great, and it's one reason I have gained so much from reading all the different blogs out there.  There are a lot of ways of living out the Faith, and someone somewhere will eventually share an approach that could be right for me as well.  Even if I don't always agree, I love hearing the thought-process behind different families' traditions and practices.

Still, I detest moral relativism.  The idea that "this is your truth, and this is my truth."  Truth is Truth.  There are some non-negotiables.  Those moral questions where I can firmly say "this is right" or "this is wrong."  But most of the things I touch on in this blog are going to be the lesser things.  The types where the most I can reliably say is "this seems to be a better way, given where I am, given what I know."

When I get interested in a new question, and eventually reach a conclusion, I often tend to carry it out "all the way."   For example, I developed a strong conviction that femininity was something important to embrace, and I began wearing skirts all the time.  I know that's not for everyone, and that's ok!  But it's hard for me to express my strong beliefs that it's a good thing to do without also making it sound as if I also think it's bad or wrong not to.

I'm sorry for anyone I have hurt by my insensitive expressions of thoughts on those "negotiable" issues.  I promise to work harder not to come off as "judging" ("whatever that means!"), and to keep in mind that what is right for me now may not be right for everyone.  And readers, I'd love if you could engage in the conversation when you disagree with me instead of assuming that I look down on you for doing things differently (and know that I am a sinner, and certainly haven't always or don't always live out my beliefs as I should).  I always love to hear different perspectives and to really work at understanding tough issues.

Thanks for reading this :-)
And thanks to the friends who still sent me their (lovely) photo Christmas cards, even if they feared they were going to be judged.
Blessed Advent to you all.


  1. I didn't reply to the original post as I feel everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and of course this is your blog to express your opinions. That said I don't think the content of Christmas cards rises anywhere close to a moral issue/capital T Truth. I used to feel very strongly about sending a particular kind of Christmas card with a 'Message' but I no longer do. I don't have time to loudly express my strident opinions on 1000 subjects... And the world keeps turning. There is a lot of judgement out there on nonmoral and religious issues. It disgusts me because much of it isn't done in charity. I try my best to just tune it out and move on. My time slotted for righteous grumpiness is very small!

    1. I agree, the type of card you send out is not "capital T Truth," which is what I'm saying. But I do think it's still good to consider "better ways" to do things, even when there's no definite right or wrong. I believe in living life purposely, and with intention. While a lot of the little decisions you make throughout your day may not be as serious as being possible sins, I would think a lot of them could be more/less pleasing to God. I'm just looking for those little things I can do that seem better for my soul. Avoiding potential vanity is one of them.

  2. I believe, for me at least, that if you own the blog, it's your right to say whatever you believe. I suppose, if you were way off base on some "T"ruth, it would be up to someone to point that out (in the kindest way possible). Mostly, as you say, blogs are opinions and reflect what you feel to be what is best for you.

    The issue that comes up for me is when someone comments on someone else's blog and tries to point out how they are incorrect about something that is not a "T"ruth and more often than not, causes feelings of judgment or just makes the blogger feel badly. I know there are bloggers, such as yourself, who can withstand almost any type of comment without taking it personally. There are others, however, who tend toward the sensitive side and I hate to see them hurt by someone's opinion about something that is usually trivial.

    My biggest shock these days is that so many people feel like they have something valuable to say about almost any topic that's written (like me right now) and so have to comment.

    Sheesh. Flawed humanity mixed with the Internet. Who thought that was a good idea?

  3. I did not feel judged by that post and I've sent out photo cards for a couple years. You are entitled to express your opinion on your blog and the reason you gave for not sending them out was valid.

  4. I was being at least half facetious when I said you'd judge us when you got our card. It didn't bother me, truly. I'd never really given any thought to the appropriateness of photo cards, and I appreciated your thoughts. I guess like any other object one has to know one' sown heart on the matter. What's an occasion of sin for one might be fine for others, and I know you get that.

    I think it's a shame we're so quick to pull out the judging card amongst others who are just trying to do the best we can. It's understandable in that we feel REALLY judged just about every time we do anything in this world, can't y'all just give me a break about skirts or whatever? But on the other hand these little things do matter and we should be doing ALL

  5. ...for His glory. We just get tired.