Friday, September 28, 2012

Leave the Judgment at Home by Serene Heiner

“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

In October of 2011, I stood in the Washington D.C. temple to witness the sealing of one of my older brothers. Directly after the sealing, my dad asked all eight of us children to gather together. We sat down and looked around at each other. Seven of the eight of us were now sealed in the temple, with my youngest brother, newly endowed, getting ready to leave on his mission. 

My parents looked at us in tears. Finally my dad found his voice and said, “I have dreamed of this day; the day when all my children would be gathered together in the temple. This is what we have prayed and worked so hard for. My heart is full.”

Not long after, I recalled a conversation I had with mom a while back. 

One day, a sister had come to her very upset. As she unloaded all of her problems, my mom tried to offer comfort and said, “I understand”.

At this point, the sister became very angry and started shouting at her, “You don’t understand anything! How could you? You with your perfect life, you could never understand anything that I’m going through!”

I suppose you may have been thinking the same thing as I described that one brief scene with my family in the temple.

But what if I were to tell you, that my mom, who is a convert to the church, was raised by an abusive mother, both physically and mentally. 

Her dearest and closest friend was killed in a car accident when she was in high school. 

Later she married her high school boyfriend who had been unfaithful to her before they were married, and continued to be so after.  After four years of marriage to him, she believed she couldn’t have children, especially after he got another woman pregnant.  She had learned that the rumors about her husband were indeed true when she caught him in a room at a friend's home.

At this point she took a closer look at the gospel. When she decided to join the church, her family ridiculed and mocked her openly and publicly. She had no support from family or former friends, except for the one couple who brought her into the church.

She finalized her divorce during that time and as a new convert, discovered how easy it is for people to develop prejudicial attitudes based on preconceived notions of divorced individuals. 

Three years later she served a mission where she met my father. One week after she returned home and was released from her mission, they were sealed in the temple, without family support on either side. For you see, my dad was a convert as well.

I could go on and on since this merely covers her younger years, but I’ll stop there.

You see, my mom did understand.

There is a popular saying by Pluto: “Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

How easy life makes it to forget that we each have a divine nature and a divine destiny.

My father too had to rise above an incredibly difficult past. But that's a story for another day.

3 Nephi 14:1-2 “ And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.
 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

Now, if we were to be completely honest here, we would all have to admit to passing unfair judgment upon someone else. It’s simply human nature!

But we usually only see a mere fraction of one’s life or a brief glimpse of a person’s situation. Nor can we ever fully understand a person’s temperament, their strengths or weaknesses, their personalities, or the trials they have had to endure. 

Only the Savior can do that. Because, through the atonement, he suffered each individual’s conditions even before the person suffered. This he did to enable him to “succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11-12)

So for heaven’s sake, leave the judging to Him. “He that is without sin, cast the first stone.” 

It is incredible to think that despite the hardships both my parents had to go through, they are without a doubt amazing and goodly parents who refused to let their past define them. They speak often of how it was and is through the gospel and the atonement of Jesus Christ that they were able to move on, forgive, and rise above their past.

“HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children…. Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World)

Let it go. Let all the other stuff go. Your family is worth fighting for, it is worth protecting.

The trials in this life will come to each of us in time. Whether it’s early in our lives, or later, whether they pound us all at once, or are spread throughout our whole existence.

“So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind. It is a happy way to live.” ~ Jeffery R. Holland

Serene is a highly imperfect mom of five children (born within 6.5 years) who blogs humorously about all her parenting misadventures at Serene is my name, Not my life! She also has a severe chocolate addiction and likes to pretend she's stylish enough to wear high heels.

Be sure to check out today's other insightful posts about the Family Proclamation on the following blogs:

  Middle-agedMormonMan  diapersanddivinity


  1. What a lovely post. And a timely reminder. Thank you, Serene.

  2. I loved this post. It is so true that we only see what others allow us to see. Thanks for reminding me not to judge or assume, to be kind to everyone!

  3. Wonderful post!! My husband and I were just talking about this the other day! It can be so easy to 'make up' someones past based on the little information we have but that it so wrong and no one but our Heavenly Father ever knows the whole story!! Thanks so much for this!

  4. This might be my favorite post of the entire celebration. Thanks for this remarkable story of resilience, trial and blessings.

  5. This brought tears to my eyes. Yes, we can rise above and love and be happy. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thanks, I too loved this post. It is so easy for us to make judgement calls when we have only 30 seconds of information. I am so grateful the Lord looks on the heart! And I just have to tell you how very cute your family photo is!! I love how the a is backwards and the y upside down! What a cute idea....very adorable!

    1. Haha... thank you! I was surprised how many people asked me what the letters were suppose to spell!

  7. Beautiful reminder to be kind. Just lovely.

  8. Beautiful reminder. Just lovely.

  9. This reminds me of my own family at times. I come from a family of 10 kids, we all grew up in the church and people can usually come up with a long list of all the wonderful things we may do. Yet, there have been many times when people have assessed our family and they figure we've got it all together and they have no idea what kind of problems our family has been through.

    Great post. We all need to work on this one.

    1. It's so true. We all put on a "front" for others, or put our "best foot forward". Not that that's a bad thing, it just often gives the impression of something that's not always real.

  10. Beautifully written and a wonderful reminder! Just what I needed.

  11. a bit sad but truly wonderful

  12. Wow, this was a powerful post with great wisdom and thoughts to ponder. We have six children all sealed in the temple and it was such a beautiful day when we were all in the temple together. The sweet moment didn't last long due to a struggle with one of the families. Life brings so many challenges and we should never judge another before we have walked in their shoes. I know just how your mother felt and I have been there also.
    Blessings for this one!

  13. What a powerful reminder! Thank you!

  14. it's too easy to judge others without knowing their lives...I enjoyed your article...

  15. Thanks, Serene! Loved it. Made me reflect even more about President Holland's recent talk where he addressed righteous judgment vs. self-righteous judgment. I love this line about not judging from the hymn Lord,I Would Follow Thee: "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see." Good stuff. Thanks again.