I was caught in one of those awkward conversations with someone you barely know talking about someone you don’t know at all. “Our neighbors down the street,” she whispered conspiratorially, “well, Jill seems great. But her husband Tom? He doesn’t go to church at all– he says he doesn’t even believe in God!”

Ignoring her obvious scorn my friend Allison exclaimed, “I know Tom! He’s fantastic. He helped us move in a few years ago and taught my son a skateboard trick last week.”

I could have hugged and kissed Allison right then and there. Smooooch! That’s for you, my friend.

Living in a religion-saturated state like Utah, faith is not an unusual topic of conversation. For the most part people are cordial and accepting but occasionally you see and hear bigotry from every group.

I simply can’t understand judging another person for their beliefs. Truly, we shouldn’t judge each other at all. But if we’re going to form opinions wouldn’t it make more sense to assess people by their actions?

Drinking alcohol is against my religious creed. If my friend with different beliefs wants wine with dinner or beer when out with friends it’s really no concern of mine. But if this same friend drives drunk or beats her kids when under the influence— yeah, I’m going to make a judgment call: to the police.

Actions speak louder than words. My people, my friends, come from every sort of belief system. In common, we love our children, we nurture our marriages, we fight injustice and disease and we hope for peace.

I wonder if judging others stems from being insecure in our own beliefs? Sabbath Day observance is taken very seriously in the Mormon religion. But sometimes I find myself jealous/judgmental of my cute neighbor who is gardening, shopping, vacationing, eating out etc. on Sunday. Do I really believe in the Sabbath? If I can remember the peace that setting aside one day for God brings me I really don’t need to worry about what anyone else is doing.

People who are truly living their convictions don’t condemn others.

Shall I tell you my dark secret? I don’t believe in global warming. Sure, I’m happy to reduce, reuse, recycle(I’m not so happy about those lame low-wattage bulbs that make my house so dark) but I refuse to buy into the hype of some terrible global catastrophe. I realize that with six kids and a big ol’ house no one is going to put a gold star on my forehead but we do make every reasonable effort to protect this beautiful earth.

I think it’s much the same for my friends who don’t believe in God. They are happy to live moral, productive lives with or without divine intervention.

Personally, I think God smiles on all people who are doing their best no matter their ideology. But I’ll let HIM be the judge of that.

May 13, 2008



  1. Melinda

    May 14, 2008

    I’m so glad you expressed how you feel on this matter. This week has been a big one for my family to learn not to be judgemental. It is a learned behavior I think. It’s nice to know that you are helping the cause by teaching your kids by your example. There are good people who drink just as there are bad people who don’t drink. It’s a daily consious effort for me to realize when i’m casting judgements and a good chance to see where inside myself it is coming from.

  2. Blue

    May 14, 2008

    I’m so glad to have in you, Michelle, a Friend Who Knows.

    Friends Who Know teach and love and grow and fail and try again and serve and share and learn and work and play and pray and mourn, and encourage and hope. They grow old with you and help you stay true. You are great at all these things. ♥

  3. Mama

    May 15, 2008

    Thank you, Michelle. We might not believe the same things, but I do believe in you!

  4. Christie

    May 15, 2008

    Oh, don’t even get me started on this. It makes me INSANE when people in our faith wrongly judge others who choose differently. We have TONS of non-LDS friends who are better Christians than a lot of LDS people I know.

    Well said, you.

  5. Katie

    May 15, 2008

    Amen! I love this post… it is so true… all of it… thanks for the reminder.

  6. Chelle

    May 15, 2008

    My initial response to a story like this is ‘I gotta get out of this crazy town’. But then I calm down and realize that no, I can simply choose to surround myself with the people who live here that don’t hold such ridiculously rigid standards of who’s “bad”, who’s “good” and of course, who’s the “goodest”.

    People like you, dear friend.

    Well said, as always.

  7. Lauri

    May 15, 2008

    Perfectly said! I am so WITH you on this. I think if we can learn to love others because of what is in their heart rather than skin color, religious beliefs, educational backgrounds etc. we would all be much happier. You never know what could be going on in one’s life.

    PS. I also share your deep dark secret for global warming. 🙂

  8. Jan Russell

    May 16, 2008

    You are one of the goodest people I know!

  9. StakerSensations

    May 18, 2008

    perfectly said…

  10. StubbyDog

    May 20, 2008

    Love you Michelle. Your love of life comes shining through so much in your words. I think I’d be honored to be your neighbor. Of course, we’d be one of the whispered-about ones, but that’s ok. Utah and the South definitely have some common characteristics there. 😉

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