Thursday, October 03, 2013

The opinion and judgement factor


Ephesians 4:29

New International Version (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


Over the past while I have been ruminating, and even written several drafts, on a post of opinion and judgement. Maybe it is just because I have become more aware, or maybe it is a return to North American culture thing that triggered me to notice it more, but more and and more I have become aware of the judgement factor.

I understand that everyone likely has an opinion on most things in life. We all take the information available to us and make choices when faced with decisions. Some people research and study and use all available methods to make the best decisions. Others do a little research and talk to people, others google, others go with a gut feeling. But whatever it is, you make a decision. What has surprised me is the way that people judge other people based on their decisions. And personally, I feel that women are especially susceptible to this (though men are by no means off the hook).

Let me give you an example. Being pregnant and just about to deliver I can assure you that it seems everyone out there has an opinion on what I should do. Especially about how I should deliver this child. Now I know a bunch of women that I love and respect who have given birth in the past few years. Their experiences range the gamut from those who chose caesarean sections for the ease and convenience, those who had medically urgent caesareans, those who had hospital assisted normal vaginal births, those who chose to stay at home with a doula or midwife present, and those who chose to give birth alone in their shower (and even other options in between but you get the point!). I know each and every one of these women love their children dearly. I know each one wanted a healthy child and a healthy recovery and was concerned for their own body as well. I do not judge any single one of them for the type of birth they chose, even if they chose something that I personally would not consider in my own life and situation.  In fact, I think it is fascinating to sit and talk with them and hear their decision making process and research and thoughts that led up to their choices. Not because I think what they did was right or wrong, but because it interests me in how we make choices and the different way or angle that we can all approach the common female experience of childbirth. (However not all women are open to discussing their decision- potentially because like me they feel that society is often judging their decisions and thus they would need to defend themselves- so sad!). I believe they all made what they felt was the best decision and no one can tell us that their choice was wrong. Each one has a healthy child now. I have been doing a lot of reading, talking to people and online research. My last childbirth experience was 8 years ago and did not go real well with some medical hiccups at the end that led to a temporary adductor muscle paralysis for months ( I am trying to avoid that this time!) , so I want to see what is out there for best practice and knowledge and research from all different sources, levels of training and medical professionals. I find it frustrating when there is contradictory evidence, even from people who are on the same end of the spectrum. For example when a birth coach and a long-trained doula and midwife all have strong different opinions on a certain practice or matter. But why do people feel they need to impress upon you their choices and what they believe to be right? Do they think that I love my children any less than they love theirs, or that somehow I don’t care and want the best for my child and my delivery? It is hurtful to hear some of their comments sometimes and feel their disappointment if I am choosing something other than what they chose.

But that is just one example. There are many types of situations where we do the same thing to each other. Why is it that we feel the need to judge? Why is it that we feel the need to put our opinion out there to convince or guilt someone into agreeing with us or feeling they are disappointing us? I feel one of the gravest things I fear in this society is that we are not encouragers or cheerleaders of each other. I went for a pedicure with my sister in law today and we were discussing this exact thing, that we face enough pressure and judgement from the world around us that our close community and families should be each other’s best advocates and cheerleaders. We should be the ones to champion and love and support each other, EVEN IF they make a decision that is not the same as one that we would make. I personally am doing everything I can do avoid a c-section delivery and it would not be my choice to have that unless there was really no other choice in a medical emergency. I am also hoping (and trying some natural methods) to have this labour start at 39 weeks because a smaller baby and earlier birth will lessen my chances of nerve paralysis this time and any chance of a medical c-section.  But I have no problem supporting and loving the people in my life who do choose to have a c-section or those who wait until natural labour starts even if it is 42-43 weeks. Because at the end of the day, unless they are choosing something dire and radical and endangering their lives with something crazy, I trust them. I choose to love the person and support them and trust they are making decisions, along with their spouses or whoever else is involved in their decisions, that they will think it out and do what is best for their family, their health and their situation.

Why would my opinion matter and I would waste my time trying to convince them what they are doing is wrong? I can see so much hurt and broken relationships that emanate from that type of thing. I have seen broken relationships emanate from choices where we judge. Who stays at home as a Mom and who goes back to work. Who spends their money in what way. Who stays close to family, who moves away for jobs and future. Who uses public schools vs. who uses Christian school vs. who home schools. Do we really think any of those people love their children or families any less and did not really think through and work through their decision? How much easier it would be if we knew we had support and care in our corner and the judgement was erased.

I believe God created us to live in community. To care for one another and exhort and encourage.  We are pitted against culture and forces and society who can often be against us and make this life hard. We need to be more of each other’s cheerleaders. More of the people who support, encourage and celebrate our choices, not those who judge or pressure or make you feel stupid for a choice that you make just because it is not a choice that they make.  I personally would feel so much relief from that, and I think all of our relationships would be better for it. Let’s not judge. Let our words be a gift to encourage, lift up and exhort others.