“I can tell if I’ll like someone or not just by looking at their shoes.”
This was the greeting I received from a girl in my dorm during my freshman year of college. Her declaration came as her eyes slowly tracked my shirt and jeans, finally landing on my well-worn sneakers.
Fifteen years later, I still remember how humiliated I felt.
We can all think of a time we’ve been judged. And if you’re anything like me, you can also think of the many times you were the one gauging the “worth” of someone else.
None of us are perfect, so judgmental thoughts and hurtful actions are inevitable. Choosing love over judgment is a Christlike skill that takes a lifetime to learn. It requires us to “put off the natural man” and train ourselves to see everyone as children of God with unlimited worth and potential.
This is simpler in theory than practice. Like a simmering pot of water, oftentimes that overcritical thought is the first to break the surface. While it can feel impossible to control initial thoughts, we have the power to choose what comes next—our “second thoughts.”
The “second thought” theory is choosing to reframe an initial thought to something more Christlike, and letting that reframed response be the one that takes root in your heart.
Instead of sticking with, “She’s definitely not wearing garments in that picture,” I can recognize the harshness with which I am judging a situation I know nothing about. I can change my thinking.
My second thought could be, “What others choose to wear is none of my business. Her worth is inherent as a child of God.”
In her talk, Sister Dennis asks,
“Are there people in your path who you have felt inclined to judge? If so, remember that these are valuable opportunities for us to practice loving as the Savior loves.”
Practicing a less-judgmental way of thinking will improve our relationship with others. Our hearts will be filled with charity as we allow Christ to give us eyes to see our brothers and sisters as He does.
Next time you find yourself judging someone, use that opportunity to reframe your thinking. How can you see others the way Christ sees them?
I can change my thinking and let go of judgment even if my first thought isn't Christlike. Refocusing my second thought through a lens of love will help me develop charity for others.