Judgment and mercy

My brother used to half-jokingly call me and one of my comadres,” the judge, the jury, and the executioner.” Why? Because we used to cut everyone, male and female, we weren’t feeling into sushi pieces. Chop! Except we didn’t need to get ghetto(though as I’ve gotten older, I find that side of me showing up at inopportune moments) about our mean-girl attitude. We were too smart. Better to be like Dorothy Parker and leave them wondering how words could be so gosh-darn hurtful yet hilarious. I’ve been judgmental. It’s a side of myself I’ve worked to overcome. Judgment shows a lack of compassion and mercy. It shows insecurity and cruelty. It’s a cheap glass house.

But what to do when you know something or someone is wrong? I don’t mean drag-queen wrong, “girl that outfit was all wrong” or go away in handcuffs wrong. Wrong in a way that hurts the person and therefore all those who love them? I have tried to show mercy to people doing wrong. I want to offer them my love and support. That can be exhausting.

Around Christmas, during this terrible winter, I made a difficult decision. I chose to cut the child of my heart out of my life. Now I have no children. But for 10 years, I have devoted my life to working with kids and inevitably, because of my tender heart and desire to nurture, I have taken a few under my wing. Of these, there are certain individuals whom I have brought into my personal life as friends and confidants. One I have gone so far as to call him my son. He has held me up when I’m drunker than I’ve been in over a decade. He has listened to me cry, cast threats, and rail against myself and the world. He has been a true friend. But my friend has written me text messages from the bottom of playgrounds and bottles. I recently reached out to him again–and find myself wondering if I’m an enabler.

Just this weekend, as a joint was passed around the lounge in the side room of a large SOMA club, I marveled at my complete lack of interest in substance abuse. My Lenten fast from alcohol has made the nightlife an interesting experiment in sociological research and being asked for rolling papers was duly noted in my mental notebook. Do I look the type? But I did not pass judgment. So why did I gasp when my homeboy T, feeling revelatory on our drive home, shared that my former crush Beautiful partakes of more than one illegal substance? It’s none of my business. He’s a grown-ass man. We’re nothing to each other except casual pals, linked by my brother and my last birthday. Does it make him any less attractive? I won’t lie. I am disappointed. But who am I to judge?

During my own recent struggles, I have not felt judged. Everyone has been compassionate and merciful. I need to send out my own love for others, especially when they hurt themselves.

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