A week or so ago- I figured out how to not judge someone that was judging me. It felt light a huge weight was just lifted off my shoulders.
In church (you knew it was going to start that way didn't you) a woman gave a talk about how women need to not work and stay at home. Commence eye roll. I thought 'How am I going to have a conversation with this woman? She'll just be someone I'll politely try to avoid." She then expressed gratitude that every once in a while her husband helps out with the chores. That was the moment - she doesn't know. She doesn't there are women out there that have husbands that do all the cooking- that do a large portion of the cleaning and even more importantly - spend daily quality time with the kids. I saw this woman married to a man who 'occasionally' helped out- and this is her normal. Not only is this her normal- she thinks this is every one's normal.
Of course! If you assume every woman is married to a man who doesn't share in household duties and child rearing- of course you think women need to stay home! Who else is going to meet those needs if not a stay at home mom. If I was in her circumstances I very well could think the same thing too!
If you're blessed with talents of house making - cooking, cleaning and crafting- not understanding that other women don't have those talents and worse- have other talents that need to be magnified- like a propensity for biochemistry; one could think that women working was a waste. She doesn't know the depression that accompanies an individual when God given talents and passions are ignored.
She didn't know that some of us were not given the emotional fortitude to be home full time- and if we were our marriages would be destroyed- because we'd be lunatics. She didn't know that for some- we're making the choice between giving a child a happy home, parents with a great marriage or a stay at home mom.
Everything shifted for me in that moment. I looked at this woman not with pity- because I'm sure she enjoys the life she chose. I wasn't remotely defensive. I thought "she doesn't understand that we're not all like her" in that moment- every passive aggressive comment I had received, from family members, associates, strangers was seen in a new light. These people thought their lives were the norm, not realizing every individual, every marriage is different. Of course- if every marriage and every family was like theirs- of course their way would be the right way to do things.
My new thought when someone is passing judgement- to refrain from judging that person back is to realize that if I was in their circumstances I'd probably think the same thing too.