Dear lady who judges the less active members at church,
I used to be you.
I have sat in a congregation and wondered why certain people weren't there. I have thought to myself, "If they would just pray more, read their scriptures more, etc., their testimony would be stronger and they would be here." I used to judge that they didn't have their priorities straight and that all it would take is them trying harder.
And then I became the girl who struggled going to church. I became the girl who often fought prayer at night because she didn't have the energy to recount every hard thing that had happened that day. I became the girl who was afraid to cry because she feared she wouldn't be able to stop---and prayer always brought tears.
I have learned that this isn't black and white, that my Heavenly Father understands my intentions every single night. He knows my choices and He waits patiently for when I come to Him. But He never scolds me for not showing up. He knows I am doing my best right now.
Dear mom who judges other moms for allowing their children to watch exuberant amounts of tv,
I used to be you.
Before I had children and even for a few years after having them, I made sure they didn't watch too much television. I thought moms like that were just lazy and didn't want to spend the time with their children. I vowed never to be that mom.
And then I became the mom who allowed her children to sit in front of the tv for hours on end. Although not a daily thing, on my hardest days as a single mom, I turn the television on and lay down in my bed or get homework done. I try my hardest to make the other times count, the times when the television isn't on, and I feel like for now, that's the best I can do.
I have learned that this isn't black and white, that parenting is different for everyone. There is no one right way. I have learned that parenting is hard and that no one is perfect at it. We all make mistakes...but the important thing is that we try again the next day.
Dear woman who views divorced couples as weak and selfish,
I used to be you.
There was a time when I looked down on divorced couples because of their lack of commitment. Why choose to get married and have children if you're just going to break up your family? Why not fight harder, try harder, be better?
And then I became the woman who filed for divorce. Years ago, I would've judged my choices as selfish and the thing is, maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe filing for divorce was selfish---because I was losing myself. I knew I had done everything I could do up until that point. I knew my husband wasn't coming back. I wanted relief from the pain that had been present in a lot of my marriage.
I have learned that this isn't black and white, that on the outside we might judge why a couple is getting divorced but we will never know the full story. We have not been there every second of their lives. We don't know their emotions, their pain, and their betrayal. And even to the couples who seem to get divorced when "they could've made it work", it just doesn't matter. Who are we to judge their decisions?
Life is tricky. It's messy and confusing. We have all been the judge and the judged. We all know what it feels like to wish the whole world knew our pain so they would understand why we make the choices we do.
But we aren't perfect. We all make mistakes. The best thing we can do is own our mistakes and try harder to have compassion the next time.
We may never be able to walk in someone else's shoes but we can choose to trust that they are doing the best they can with the life they're living.