I am a judge. No, seriously I mean it. That is what I do for a living. It is quite interesting to see people’s reactions when I tell them I am a judge. First of all, I am young so they don’t expect me to be a judge. (I was in the right place at the right time, another story, different blog) Second, I really don’t look judicial. I guess I don’t look mean enough apparently. And third, I don’t act like a judge. I really am a very nice person, most people don’t think I can throw down the hammer. The good news for me, I do civil work, so no one goes to jail, and its appellate level work, so I don’t actually have to see the parties, they have already had their hearing in front of another judge. I just see the transcript of their hearing along with all the exhibits, and their arguments on appeal, and write a written decision.
Another myth about being a judge, you would think that I would be quick to judge. But to the contrary I am not. I am probably one of the least judgmental individuals you will encounter, and it comes from being a judge and the limits on me as I try to judge others.
My job is to apply the facts to the law. Often times I know the way I am ruling goes against the real truth, but if the party with the burden of proof does not present the correct evidence, I can’t make a ruling that is not supported by legally competent evidence. I also can’t make a ruling that goes against the law. I have sworn to uphold the law, as distasteful as sometimes that is.
I also know from being a judge that there are two sides to every story. I sometimes wonder when I am reading the testimony of two individuals who had a conversation together if they were even in the same room. Yes, sometimes one party is out and out lying, but other times both parties honestly believe they are telling the truth, and the truth is a matter of perception. I am limited in what I can do, I don’t know their hearts. I can only take what is before me and apply the facts to the law.
Outside of my job I cringe when others are quick to judge. They are judging based on their limited perception of the facts, as applied to their life experience and values. Is it fair to impose our life experience and values to individuals who may not share those? Why are our values any more important than those of anyone else? Didn’t the Savior set the ultimate example by LOVING everyone, even those shunned by society, for choices and values not shared by those who were judging?
This is why I am grateful that the job of judging our lives lies with the Savior and our Heavenly Father. I have a very incomplete perception of reality when I judge and I know my judgment is limited. The Lord has a complete perception of our lives and his judgment is not limited. He understands our challenges, he knows our hearts, he knows our intent and it is by HIS full perception of reality that we will be judged. Thank goodness.