I was watching the birds scratch around in our yard one winter’s morning. They were looking for breakfast, I presume. There were two distinct breeds; Northern Flickers and Varied Thrush. As I watched them more closely, I realized that they were going about their jobs differently, even though they had the same aim.
The Thrush were turning over leaves and checking carefully under each overturned leaf for that insect that might be hiding. The Flickers were poking their beaks into the grass and sod, foraging around the leaves. What a lesson! This is how these two breeds of birds, the same species, desiring the same thing, could work over the same patch of grass.
It made me think of those of us who consider ourselves Latter-day Saints. Aren’t we all disciples of Christ? And we all have the same aim—to go back home to our Heavenly Father. However, even though we are all on the same straight and narrow path with the same goal, how we attain that goal is going to look different. Some of us may find our nourishment and progress by turning over leaves while others may have to probe in a different way.
Each of us has our own private path of growth to walk, and no two paths are going to look alike. Even if they did, the lens by which we use to focus on those experiences is going to be different.
Oftentimes, because we’re all part of the same church, we think we should see things the same way. We should all be overturning leaves. But that simply isn’t true. Our experiences will be what informs us, and we need to make room in our pews, but more importantly in our hearts for those of us (meaning all of us), whose experiences may not look like ours.
Does the Thrush judge the Flicker for probing into the dirt and getting his beak dirty? Does the Flicker judge the Thrush, thinking the Thrush isn’t digging deep enough? No. They work side by side each other getting their fill in the way that was specifically designed for them. It’s the same with us.
The scary reality is when we quit judging each other, what we often find is we have enough faults of our own on which to work. Perhaps that’s why judging others can look so attractive. It relieves us of having to face that reality, meaning we can overlook the “beam” in our “own eye” because we’re too busy searching for the “mote” in the eyes of our brothers and sisters. (Matthew 7: 3-5) Judging others requires so little of us! But the Lord requires more from us and wants more for us. He literally died to help us face our own faults and shortcomings. Do we really trust that? If we do, we’ll quit finding fault with those around us, and realize that we are in no position to throw the first stone.(John 8: 3-11) This realization requires us to humbly and fully recognize that we need our Savior through this process. When we rely on Him, not only will He help us understand our faults, but He will supply the love that’s necessary to work through whatever weakness we may be facing, even if that weakness is judgment.
In my next post, I’ll be writing more about the damaging influence of judging others, and how we can catch ourselves in the act. We’ll talk about how we can do things differently and draw closer to the Lord through the scriptures at the same time.