The Judgement of Life Choices

He made me a mom.

I was single mom at age 18.

You judge. I judge. We are sinful. But above all, I believe we are called to love.

On Friday, the North Dakota Legislature passed a series of bills limiting and nearly making abortions illegal in North Dakota. Does that make you click out of this blog immediately? I know. It makes us uncomfortable. Many of us feel harsh judgement towards the bills. The truth is, I wish the North Dakota Legislature was making national headlines about sweeping property tax reform, their new early childhood education programs (which I testified on last week) or a rural revival in small business and jobs across our booming state. Those are not the headlines.

Abortion is the headline. It stirs emotions like no other issue. As I learned from my friend Aimee in her blog post Whisper, we have to share our stories, on either side of the issue. Aimee boldly shares her pro-life stance as the daughter of a single mom. Now I have other friends on either side of the issue are sharing their passions of pro-life or pro-choice.

I am not going to change your stance. Your mind is made up whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, I believe. What the North Dakota Legislature or our Governor chooses to do on the bills, I do not believe will change your personal opinion.

But I would ask for you to make the life choice to pray and show love rather than pass judgement.

Do not sling mud at either side of the issue. Everyone is passionate. Everyone thinks they know the best life choices. And we all judge.

Let me explain the judgement.

On Friday when the news broke, I read judgements people made in the comments of articles that hit mainstream headlines. I was traveling, reading on my phone. I was overcome with emotion, sitting in Ike’s in the Minneapolis airport as my flight was delayed. The comments hurt me and brought me back to being a pregnant senior in high school sixteen years ago.

Until you have had to make the choice, you do not know how hard the decision is. 

I know the tales of life choices as pregnant teenagers from a couple of friends and me. We have exchanged our secrets and stories. We know the heartache, the guilt, the emotion and the backlash.It’s a hush-hush topic that we did not talk about with most family members or girlfriends and certainly not our boyfriends at the time. If there even was a boyfriend to talk to.

It is the fear of condemnation whether you choose adoption, abortion or to keep your baby that keeps a single mom silent I believe. Because no matter the choice, we feel judgement from the whispers, those that know, those that heard a rumor, those that see your baggy sweatshirt covering your baby bump, those that look at your ring finger or those that just flat-out tell you or write their judgement to you.

As a single, working mom and full-time college student in the church I grew up in, I was not allowed to teach Sunday School after I had a baby. I was not married. I bore The Scarlet Letter. I had just transferred back to my hometown university and was excited to get active in my home church again. I had not attended since my graduation from high school, when I was six months pregnant. But at my previous university, 1500 miles away from my home, I was very active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I shared my testimony at area high schools and church youth groups. I was proud of my life decisions and boldly shared my faith. I had forgiven myself because I knew God had forgiven me.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

With the support of my family, I was raising my son. The most important thing was that my son was surrounded in love, not judgement.

I kept going for him.

I kept going for him.

But I couldn’t teach my two-year old son’s Sunday School class. It didn’t matter my testimony or my re-dedication to follow Jesus and my Christian faith. Forgiveness may have been granted by God but earthly consequences and judgement lived on for me.

The sins of church members of tax evasion, substance, physical or emotional abuse, gambling away a family’s life savings, pornography or adultery were not as visible. Those church goers could teach Sunday School.

The judgement hurt. I was filled with bitterness and became quick to judge myself.

If our sins are silent or hidden, we can often protect ourselves from earthly judgement. I could not change my past. My sins were not silent. I followed my mom’s advice, “Do the next thing.” I kept going.

In what can only be deemed a miracle in my life, with the help of my family and dedicated friends, the prayers of many and of course, from my faith, I decided to love. I let go of a weight of bitterness. It still took me most of my 20’s to truly learn to love but it started by letting go of the judgement I felt.

I loved God. I loved my son. I had to learn to love myself. I had to love others and daily I had to try not to pass the judgement onto others.

Judgement is everywhere. I still judge even when I am trying not to. I still do not show love like I should.

Yesterday, in the Minneapolis airport, I people watched. I wrote on my personal Facebook page: “Dress yourself with dignity, pride and respect. That is what I want to say to a lot of people walking through airports. At some point we have made it acceptable to dress sloppy or skimpy or both. How you dress yourself says something about who YOU are. Just because you are tired does not qualify you to wear pajamas as everyday clothes. I promise. Stepping off my small Sunday airport soapbox.” I was appalled at some of the lack of clothes or choice of clothes people were wearing in the airport. I did not think of myself passing judgement. I actually wished I could help some of them care for themselves or explain to a couple young girls the image they were portraying. But a former colleague friend wrote, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

Yes I was judging. And I am judged.

Then I went onto to read a fellow North Dakota blogger’s, Jessie Veeder’s Sunday column in the Fargo Forum. She talked about the loss she has from being 30 years old, married to her high school sweetheart, living on her home ranch in western North Dakota and being asked in the grocery store line if she and her husband have children. A smile and a polite “No” is her answer. She wrote, “It’s just the easiest way to answer a question not intended to carry so much weight as inside us we re-live the reasons, deciding whether or not to explain – that we almost had a baby. Five times we thought we might. Five times the pregnancies were lost.”

We all carry the weight of being judged and the weight of judging others.

But as Jessie wrote yesterday, we need to “live the life we are given and not the one we do not have.”

It’s Holy Week for Christians, a great reminder of judgement and thankfully, forgiveness. I know when my judgement will come. I know where I am going because of His forgiveness of my sins.

“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”  Ecclesiastes 12:14

Everyday I sin. But the end of this earthly life, I do not want to be remembered as a sinner.

Instead, I wanted to be remembered for passionately standing up for what I believe in, for going where others may have never gone without passing  judgement on for those that do not follow. The judgement will come.

I want to lead by example with love.

Update as of March 26, 2013 at 11:30 a.m.: North Dakota’s Governor Dalrymple has signed all the abortion related bills into law. Read more here.

Comments

  1. Great message! Thank you for sharing your story.

  2. <3

  3. Yes! It’s been my personal goal to give up judging others like it had become so easy to do. It hurts to be judged and yet we do it to others so easily. In my walk towards being the person He wants me to be this has been one of the hardest things to fix about myself.

    • It’s difficult and something I will work on for a lifetime, Carrie. Thanks for reading and sharing your words!

  4. Love you!

  5. A breath of fresh air…thank you for sharing!

  6. Great words. There’s a lot of wisdom in this post. I understand your feelings with your son years ago. I, myself was pregnant before I was married and I was judged too. I try very hard to not do the same. I love your mom’s advice. It’s great. Thanks for the post!

  7. Thank you Katie for sharing. You are a blessing!!

  8. Thanks for sharing Katie. I have a friend in Jamestown with a college age daughter who recently had a baby. Her church would not give her a shower, because she is unmarried. This girl grew up In that church and if anyone needed the gifts, she did. Hopefully attitudes can change with your generation leading us in the right direction!

    • Thank you Dawn. Our church at the farm had a HUGE baby shower for me after my son was born. It was a day filled with joy and I will never forget it.

  9. Great post and beautifully written! Thank you for sharing and happy Easter!

  10. Thank you, Katie, for the courage you have demonstrated in your life by living out your convictions. I cannot explain how moving the photos are in this post. You kept going for him. You did! Greater love has no one than he lay down her life for her friends (John 15:13)… or for her son. You lead by your example and inspire others to “do the next thing.”

  11. Thank you Katie.
    Since judgement has been passed, time for the sentencing.
    *** HUG ***

  12. Amen!
    Thank you for having the courage to share your story Katie!

  13. Beautiful post, Katie. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter holiday. Thank you for enriching mine.

    Anne

  14. I dream of a world where society casts far less judgment, but struggle as most do, to see everyone through God’s eyes. This blog is timely as I had a conversation with a friend and co-worker just last week. He was telling my friend and I about how he was dreading a trip with his girlfriend and girlfriend’s brother. 5 hours in a car, he says, with the most annoying person on the planet. Further, he was going to cope with the intollerable brother but inserting ear buds and studying for a test. Studying would be far less painful than having to listen to her brother. I kept waiting to hear why he was so annoying and finally asked enough questions to find out her brother was developmentally disabled and lacked some of the social skills that tell some of us that it’s quiet time. I grew livid. Red in the face and trying to hold back the deep anger I had for this co-worker, I did my best to explain to him that he should be more tollerant of people less fortunate than he. You see, my brother has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome which means not only does he have a severe siezure disorder but he’s also developmentally disabled. My brother is the kindest and most genuine person I’ve ever met. He also reminds me daily of how precious life is. I would not be the person I am if it weren’t for him. My co-worker will never experience life the way those of us who exercise tollerence, see life. And in the same moment .. I see that I have judged my co-worker. I felt sorry for him. Instead, I feel I should have prayed for him that someday he’ll see his girlfriend’s brother through God’s eyes. We all throw stones. I choose, today, to put down my stones, and pray for the things I don’t understand. Katie – you’re amazing!! Big hugs and lots of love!!

  15. Next time you’re here, remind me to stand on a step or something so I can hug you good and proper.

  16. During a January church service in our small town Presbyterian church, for Epiphany, the teens distributed baskets of tiny, folded papers that bore a simple message, a gift, to each of us. Each slip of paper started with the phrase “The gift of…” I grabbed a green paper because it’s my favorite color. Or so I thought. I now realize God was giving the message He wanted me to hear this year, for my tiny paper read: “The gift of … courage.”

    Thank you for sharing your own tale of courage, for inspiring others with your words — and your life’s actions.

  17. What a wonderful post – beautifully written! I think these points are ones we forget in everyday life and the fact that it is so easy for people to judge yet so hard to forgive and love. I too catch myself judging on occasion, but I do my best to refrain and put myself in that persons shoes. The point that really hit home with me on this post is that everyone is human, and we all have our sins, yet people so easily put there’s aside to judge those of others. This happens in so many aspects of life – politics, religion, business, etc. and I hope that your post inspires people to take a good look at their lives and work to stop the judgement.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful message and it is encouraging and inspiring during this Holy Week. I applaud you for your bravery and am happy that you are at a wonderful place in your life and have the courage to share this story that so many can relate to. THANK YOU!

  18. Katie – this might be my favorite post of yours of all-time. It comes straight from the heart. Thank you for sharing your courageous story and above all, your simple honesty. *Virtual hug*

  19. Awesome Katie and thanks to Roy I am not the only male responder. Judging and condemnation is easy. The hard work is change. I am not judgment free trust me but when I step back and remember whoever I am judging is made in God’s image it makes you rethink. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading.

  20. So appreciate your perspective and courage to share your insight on these issues. If more folks were open and shared the hard stuff, I do believe eventually the power that being judged holds over us would be diffused.

  21. Katie – You are an amazing writer and even more an amazing woman, I am proud to call you my friend!

  22. Well said, Katie. Judging is the easy way out…it requires no thought…no waling in someone else’s shoes. If you’ve you’ve been watching The Bible ministereis on the History channel, I love the scene where Jesus invites the relisous leaders to without sin to cast the first stone on the adulterous woman. Slowly they all drop their stones. Let’s drop our stones!

  23. Wonderful!!

  24. Katie, I’m proud of you. And, I know I have a reputation for being the soft, fuzzy, can’t-we-all-just-get-along girl in some of our circles. But, what you said here, stories like yours, even stories like mine, are the basis for my belief that WE ALL HAVE A STORY. We all have reasons for having become the way we are, we have all walked paths that no one else can fully comprehend from afar.

    But, we all have hearts, we all take breath, we all have felt pain and heartache. Let’s focus on how human we all are instead of how different. We don’t have to agree, but we don’t have to hate either. Thanks for being brave and sharing your story, Katie. You’re an inspiration to me.

  25. Elainecarol says:

    A wonderful message for Easter week. Thank you. I needed to hear your message today.

  26. My heart swells reading this. Life’s lessons are so simple, yet so hard to learn, aren’t they? Choosing to love takes a lot of effort. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Thanks Katie. My views on life are worn on my sleeve. I find life precious and worth protecting. I have friends, who I love dearly, for various reasons are pro choice. I know that I can’t change their minds, and I choose not to judge them. Judgement goes both ways, which makes things difficult. As a mom to six precious blessings, I get a lot of judgement.

  28. Great message by both Jessie and you. Good job at being so strong for both you and your son!

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