Judge Me with Love: A Spiritual Practice Inspired by Julia Child

Listen. Let me tell you something.

I guarantee there is something beautiful and delicious about your life and it’s part of what makes this world good.

Julia Child had butter and the desire to cook with it. Roses in that same buttery yellow are named for her. Those roses now grow in the dirt beside the brick-walled steps and the faded concrete lion who sits on the parapet, overseeing all living things in my yard.

Butter. Julia Child. Roses. Me. Joy.

Judged through a different lens, though, I could list different words:

Fat. Unhealthy. Japanese beetles and rose rot. High cholesterol. Tedious maintenance of arteries and plants.

For good or for ill, we humans judge. It’s part of our discerning faculty and what has kept us enduring and alive through millennia.

We might claim to be nonjudgmental, but this is not actually possible. Our brains judge. It’s what we do.

We’re often judging others, ourselves, the situation and circumstances, the weather, photos on Facebook, our faces, our thighs, our writing, their writing, the driver who chose to put one of those excessively loud mufflers on their car, and on and on.

We judge God, too, I think. For intervening. Or for not intervening. For all the mistakes of humans. For being distant and far away. For the weather and natural disasters. For every minor annoyance. For God’s very existence and why God doesn’t make more sense.

The butter sizzles in the frying pan, though. The roses keep opening with such beauty, their fragrance drifting across the front porch, sweet and inviting.

Julia cooked for the love of it. Butter was her muse. I’m sure the grease, kitchen failures, and cleanup were sacrifices she willingly made for the joy of cooking.

I’ve learned that roses appreciate a heavy hand when it comes to pruning. They like to be deadheaded and cut back. I imagine it frees their energy for the next wave of bloom.

One of my favorite prayers has become, Lord, judge me with love.

Let me judge myself with love.

Let me judge this person with love.

If I’m gonna judge, let it be with love, Lord.

Rather than valiantly trying to “not judge” or sinking into a miry muck of disappointment with God, people, and life in general, I can grow a new practice.

He walks in the door, complaining, tired, and looking as rough as he seems to feel. Can I judge with love?

I look in the mirror and see dimples and sags that weren’t there last year. Oh, baby girl, I see you!

The most ridiculous looking and sounding car roars down the street, interrupting my conversation. I guarantee the driver chose that exact after-market glasspack muffler for the love of it.

God isn’t behaving as I think God should. Or maybe God isn’t here at all in any discernible way. That’s a tough feeling. Can I judge even God with love?

The spiritual practice is just this: feeling the displeasure come up and letting it soften like the blooming roses. I will judge you with love.

I choose to believe the best about you, about me, about God, and about this world. Not in a Pollyanna, naïve way. But in a committed, enthusiastic, Julia Child way.

And when pruning is needed, and too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing?

Let the pruning take place for the love of the roses, and the arteries, the growth, and the friendships, not despite them. Judging with love doesn’t eliminate the need for discernment. It just elevates the judging, so it comes from a higher place, one that’s rooted in joy.

What is beautiful and delicious about your life? About your body? About your choices? About your work?

If you’re struggling to find joy, try judging yourself and your life with love.

Might you give God the benefit of the doubt, in love?

Lord, in the blooming and the pruning, in the succeeding and the failing, in the pleasure and the disappointment, teach me to judge like you–with love.

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Faye Hardiman
Faye Hardiman
10 months ago

I woke up this morning judging myself as a mother, even though my children are grown. Thank you for this perspective.

Savannah Kate Coffey
Savannah Kate Coffey
10 months ago
Reply to  Faye Hardiman

Thank you for sharing your experience, Faye. Motherhood is definitely an area where I often need to remember to judge with love!

10 months ago

Thank you for this perspective. I wrote about anger in my journal this morning; your thoughts here seem to underline and clarify what I discovered in my writing today.

Savannah Kate Coffey
Savannah Kate Coffey
10 months ago
Reply to  Eileen

Thank you for sharing this Eileen. Writing as discovery- yes!

Julie Hester
10 months ago

Thank you for this—the practice and the writing.

Savannah Kate Coffey
Savannah Kate Coffey
10 months ago
Reply to  Julie Hester

I so enjoy your writing prompts and blog, Julie. Thanks for the inspiration!

Judy Walsh-Mellett
10 months ago

What a beautiful gift to show up in the inbox today!
Thank you for your wonderful reflection (and for real butter and roses!)


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