By Elisa Morgan
I have two friends. They are both adorable and fun and unfailingly loyal. I love having them in my life. Most of the time. I like it less – a LOT less – when they respond to certain struggles in classic “defense” mode. You know, out of their weaknesses.
Let me take a sec to introduce you?
First, meet “Judgy.” When threatened with the possibility of being wrong or faced with a disappointment that might make her look bad, this friend goes “judgy.” She points her finger at someone else and gestures at their poor habits or missteps or other inadequacies. Judgy can’t see her own weaknesses because she’s busy evaluating – make that judging – the weaknesses of everyone else.
Then there’s “Grudgy.” When wounded by criticism or lonely after being excluded, this friend goes “grudgy.” If you hurt her, she’ll get even with a grudge. She’d rather sit alone in misery and stroke her pet peeve than forgive and continue in relationship.
You’re likely starting to wonder just who these two friends are, how I allowed them into my life and just what I’m going to do moving forward. Oh, and you may be thinking that you just might have two similar personalities hanging around your life as well.
Likely. Because Grudgy and Judgy are actually friends who live within me. In fact, they’re part of all of us. They dwell in the underbelly of our defensive reactions to not getting what we want and getting what we don’t want.
Our Judgy’s pointer finger poses in accusation at the one who unloads eighteen items onto the fifteen item checkout lane, who sheds fifteen pounds with barely any effort or who “needs” to lose fifty pounds and doesn’t seem to even try, whose preschooler isn’t yet potty-trained or whose teen is the most popular and perfect adolescent ever born on the planet. It goes both ways: judge the bad, judge the good. Just keep judging everybody else in order to keep from evaluating within ourselves.
Our Grudgy’s lip pushes out with a pout, nursing an injury and backing away from all who try to come close. I’ve been hurt! All defenses to their stations! Dive! Dive! Dive! Grudgy submerges into pseudo-security and dares anyone to approach, while simultaneously peering back to see if someone might, truly care and chase after. But if they do, Grudgy’s prepared to go deeper into hiding.
Judgy. Grudgy. Like I said, I adore them in so many ways. I know they mean well - their goal is really to protect me. When I pay attention to their helpful warnings about my feelings or that wounding is ahead, I have the opportunity to rally a healthy response. But when I give them free rein and let them lead, they do me great damage. They divert me from needed self-evaluation and healthy boundary-making.
Sitting down to take a closer look, I conclude that maybe Judgy needs to soften into discernment about my own actions instead of those of others. And perhaps Grudgy needs to bring hurts into awareness so I can ask for and receive healing. Ah…yes, it just may be that I need to bring these friends a bit closer, becoming a better friend to them myself so that we can be better friends to each other.
Elisa Morgan is the cohost of the new podcast, God Hears Her. She is also the cohost of Discover the Word and contributor to Our Daily Bread. Her latest book is When We Pray Like Jesus. Her other books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, and @elisamorganauthor on Facebook and Instagram.