I was a naive child. Usually playing on the playground with the same group of kids every day. We’d played games like tag or tangle. But one day I was playing in the dirt with a different group of kids. And then there was “Dee,” obviously not her real name. She said open your mouth and close your eyes and I’ll give you a big surprise. Suspiciously I asked if she was going to put something in my mouth. Of course not she said. Okay, silly person that I was, I opened my mouth. Guess what? I got dirt in my mouth. I spit and sprayed while grabbing dirt to throw on her. She was long gone laughing all the way. I need to find her and thank her for a lesson that should have been well learned. You know the lesson, don’t believe everything you’re told. People lie. Be skeptical.
I grew up in an honest home. My parents are upfront, trustworthy, salt of the earth people. You could hand them your entire life savings and when you returned to pick it up, you’d get it all back. My mom would drive back across town to return a penny if she was given too much change. Of course it’s also true that if you did them wrong by trying to cheat or harm them, they will never darken your door again. So I didn’t know deceit. Elementary school was a wake up for me. It was my first experience with lying and cheating.
I’ve learned. I can make better judgement calls now and more so as I get older. I try to discern if they are intending to scam me or if they are honest. What I’m uncertain about is if there is a difference between discerning and judging. I looked the words up online since I’ve always thought there was a difference. Judging was something the Sunday school teacher taught that we shouldn’t do. And it was left with that. No talk about it’s okay to decide to avoid people who appeared dangerous, just Don’t Judge. Judging is wrong. Which left us good little girls in a bad situation. If you prevent judgement in all cases then we don’t have any defense to prevent rape, murder, or any other harm. Surely that’s not what they meant. But God protected us. Where was he when the girl put dirt in my mouth or when some boy was pressuring us into sex? Did we have the right to say no?
Being good and subservient does not go well with standing up for your rights. At the same time purity was taught. If you don’t understand the dilemma I completely understand. I’m not sure I do either. There were very few secrets from the all-knowing God or the pastor that God spoke to continually. He knew every evil thought and every judgement you made about another.
Today, I hate and despise these ideals. I don’t believe kids need to sit down and shut up. I also believe they need to learn how to decide. I say eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eat often. Learn, decide, choose, and be skeptical. We were not meant to be sheep thrown out into the pasture with wolves and dogs. I was unprepared for life and I know that I was not alone. It was a sad trick someone played on us. Dressed up in our frilly pink dresses, we were told to go outside and play, but don’t get dirty.
Maybe I’m just angry. I was powerless and told it was right. Any power I had felt wrong. I worried for years that someone would find out and reprimand me. NO MORE. I’ve worked very hard in my life for freedom. To have the right to discern and judge for myself. I now decide if something is good for me or will do me harm. It’s not based on anyone else’s ideal, only my own well-being. And it feels right.
There are other words. Maybe you can tell if there is a difference.
Discern – discriminate, distinguish, differentiate, separate, contrast
Judge – examine, determine, evaluate, figure out, inspect, interpret
Skeptical – cautious, suspicious, leery, unconvinced, not following