We sat around the kitchen table, over a rushed bowl a soup and a quick chat.
I love and care for her deeply, even if we have only been friends for three quarters of the past year. I don’t know if the affinity is that of souls who have known the pain of loss or the similarity of our existences.
And she told me about her worries about how people perceive her.
And I heard myself say to her what I had said to many others before:
“Why do you care what others think of you?“
But then, perhaps because of my love for her, my soul found a way to enunciate it clearer than ever before.
“We are multifaceted beings, my dear, and what people usually judge us by is the one facet they know or need us to be. But you are more, much more than that.”
It was like a revelation, the thought so clearly formed and put into almost visual shape.
In the days that have passed, since we had that kitchen conversation, it made me realise that judgement and its spews are never to be taken as absolutes.
We always judge people by the one side of them we most often interact with.
I judged the Church and found it lacking in transparency and post-loss pastoral care. Full stop.
My outbursts never went down too well. People got ruffled and offended and defensive. They made assumptions, pulled back from the “straying sheep”, felt justified to take sides, to preach at me, to “pray” for me..etc…etc.
But what most failed to understand was that, at that moment in time, to me, as a bereaved parent, the need for genuineness and care were like water to a man lost in the desert. Essential for survival. Simple as that.
What people also failed to understand was that I wasn’t judging the Church on all its multifaceted aspects. I couldn’t simply because I lack the evidence and the knowledge to do so. I judged one aspect of the Church, the one I had need most of at that time and the lack of which caused me a lot of pain and feelings of utter isolation.
I am teaching my daughter the same thing, from a very early age and I will drum it into her until she gets it.
When she comes home from school, soul bruised by mean words or quarrels in the playground, I ask her the very same thing: “why is this so important to you, my love?“
I also tell her that even if friends’ opinions are important, they are never more important than knowing in ourselves that those words, those quarrels do not define the whole of us and do not make us who we are.
In this way, I am raising my girl to stand tall and stay strong in the knowledge that one judgement spoken over her does not make her bad.
I wish people would grasp this very empowering revelation as I recognise its potential to change our lives. Judgement, in spite of our terror if its outbursts, is natural and healthy, as it streams from an unfulfilled need, from discontentment, anger or pain. Judgement usually focuses on one aspect and not the whole of who we are. And judgement, as we have come to falsely dread it, can actually be accepted for what it is, an alarm signal of things that could be done better. Can we embrace this truth?