“Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye. Don’t give holy things to dogs, and don’t throw your pearls in front of pigs. They will stomp on the pearls, then turn around and attack you.Matthew 7:1-6, CEB
One of the hardest things for me to accept along the path I have walked was my own need to have perspective. Along life’s journey I had come to believe that it was judgmental to look critically at someone else’s actions, especially if I knew that I was imperfect. I have had to learn to have perspective.
I am a trained Biblical scholar who has spent over a decade teaching other people to take the scriptures seriously. One of the largest tools in my toolbox is to model a response to scripture by considering deeply how the scriptures affect my every day life and living in light of those considerations. In particular, I have felt compelled by both belief and position to move past being judgmental to a place of loving acceptance of other people.
As a result when things happened that were unacceptable, I did my best to look for the log in my own eye. When I was yelled at for fulfilling a basic need, the assumption I immediately made was that the thing I thought I needed was the issue. Many times over the years I had wanted things that were less than necessary, so I thought that the needs I had in the those moments must now must also be unnecessary.
Over the years I spent a lot of time looking for the log in my own eye. I thought that all of the problems my family faced were my fault. I listened to the words over and over until I agreed with my partner when she stated that everything wrong in our life together was my fault. If I wasn’t so broken, things would be great. If I wasn’t so needy, she wouldn’t yell. If I could do a little better, she wouldn’t need to laugh at me.
In hindsight, the relationship was toxic to the point that I really did start having a problem that needed fixing. The primary problem was not that I fell short in many ways, although I still had shortcomings and still have shortcomings. The problem was that I took the good life that God had given to me and kept handing it over to someone who would stomp on what was good in me, turn, and attack me.
To be absolutely clear, the problem was not that I was too judgmental and should immediately stop to find out what was wrong with me. The problem was that I valued myself so little that I forgot one of the most holy tenets of my faith: that God loved me and cared about me deeply. While this was happening, I taught others that God was not okay with such behavior out in the world. The things I taught did not line up with the life I lived.
In practice, I forgot that God was not okay with the mocking laughter or the verbal abuse inside my marriage. Even as I taught that others should never hit their spouses or partners, I continued to forgive the pain of what I considered brief but forgivable moments throughout the years. I had all the grace I could muster for others but accepted no part of that grace in my own life.
I didn’t deserve such behavior and I should have asked for help. If you are going through something similar, you don’t deserve such treatment either. Years later, I am working hard to get to a point where I can look in a mirror without hearing the words that I should never have accepted in the first place. It hurts to admit it, but I can’t look at the good person in the mirror without hearing how I’m “pathetic.”
Being forgiving is a wonderful and noble thing. Humility is an important and powerful gift of the Spirit. Neither forgiveness nor humility make Domestic Violence acceptable. From my perspective as a Christian, I believe that each one of us have been given gifts that are holy and good. We should never throw them before the swine of the world that will trample them and attack us for sharing our lives.
October has been Domestic Violence Awareness month since it was first introduced by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1981. Regardless of the month, domestic violence is never okay, no matter the circumstances. If you or someone you know is in desperate need of help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.