Friday, July 29, 2011


I was walking with a woman once who critically commented on every house we passed. “Those purple flowers in the window boxes have got to go,” she said at one place. “I can’t abide plastic fences. They are so unnatural. What are people thinking!” and “Doesn’t she know that widow treatments should match from the outside!” at the next two yards we passed.

As we walked the criticism continued at every single house, but the interesting thing was what happened to her. As she’d speak her extraordinarily beautiful face would pinch tight in a snarl so that it lost its beauty, and the “venom” of negative thoughts would build within her then spew out like hot lava in a volcano spreading their negative fire to the rest of us. Granted, she may have just been having a bad day, but whatever the cause, the point is that the criticism did nothing but hurt her. Her thoughts caused her unnecessary pain.

I am well aware that the fashion industry, educational institutions, food connoisseurs, and home décor businesses and every other group have standards and guidelines that many people follow and like. If those "opinions" make your life easier or more enjoyable, follow them. However, to insist that everyone else should follow them and to get upset because someone else doesn’t or to think that everyone should have the same taste in things as you do, as was the case with this woman, is ridiculous. It only vexes your life.

If someone has a purple fence that you would rather die than have in your own yard, why vex yourself over it? It’s their fence. Enjoy the color! Smile at the person’s free spirit! Delight in the variety that free spirit adds to your life. And when tempted to criticize what someone else chooses to do remember, “Everything is as wonderful or terrible as your opinion makes it.” It’s all a choice—your choice.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this today. I had been having vexing feelings about a person in my ward who is not living the gospel standards and yet holds a 'public' calling and holds herself out to be 'righteous.' When I questioned her once about what she was doing, she verbally attacked me accusing me of 'judging her.' To me there is a difference between condemning a person, withholding love, being unkind to them and pointing out a commandment that is being broken. I consider the first three acts to fall under the term 'judging.' I do not think that the commandment to 'not judge' includes never pointing out an error or telling someone a gospel principle. But the point here is that I was vexed by her behavior and her attacks on me for questioning her behavior. I thought the solution was to figure out why I was so bothered by her. But now I realize that it doesn't even matter why I am bothered; I can just let go of being bothered rather than cause unneccessary pain to myself. There are always going to be different opinions regarding what is right or wrong on every person's decisions to act (i.e. some would say that it was none of my business to ever have said anything to her at all), but regardless, we can choose not to be vexed by others choices or even our own when it is in the past.

Mike and Julie said...

I love this post! Thank you for putting into words an important observation and lesson. I would like to link to your post on my blog. Is that OK?

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Julie (I assume!,) I would feel honored if you put a link on your blog.Anything to spread the Good News!