I’m not your typical girl. Growing up I was always “one of the guys” and there was nothing feminine about me. I’m still about as graceful as a bull in a china shop, I don’t like shopping, pink, or selfies, and I would rather watch football than a rom-com any day of the week. Needless to say, going to a women’s conference is typically low on my priorities list.  

But, in the face of skepticism, awkwardness, and a little anxiety I attended Sparrow Conference last weekend, and I am so glad that I did. 

I was blown away by the depth that was shared in those two days. I had heard of none of the speakers, except for We are Unveiled’s founder, and was amazed at the powerful women who spoke there. These leaders took us through the book of James, one of my favorite books of the Bible, and uncovered things that I had never seen before.

At the beginning of the conference, when the emcee was welcoming us and getting us ready to go into worship, she uttered the phrase “Don’t judge me, join me”. She’s an all-out, unashamed, unrestrained worshipper and was inviting us to join her in that deep, intimate place with the Lord. Though it was said as a joke and wasn’t mentioned again, this phrase stuck with me and was a theme for me through the entire conference. 

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” - James 1:27

It’s so easy to look at others who are different than you, whether by happenstance, your choices, their choices, or a combination, and judge them. But that doesn’t line up with what the Bible says. I am incredibly guilty of this. My personality focuses on the “big picture” and systems, so it’s easy for me to distance myself from others to remain “objective”, almost as though I am trying to remain an impartial observer. I am the least likely to join in on things, I like to remain on the edge where I’m there but not actively participating. But that’s not what this verse instructs us to do. 

When I see an orphan or a widow (i.e. someone who is less fortunate than me; someone who can do nothing for me), I shouldn’t just wonder how they arrived there, I should join them for a moment. I should sit with them and listen to their story. I should see their plight and be moved by compassion to help them. I should love them and love them well. I should initiate a conversation, a relationship even, instead of just pondering about them and maybe saying a silent prayer on their behalf. 

Now, let me be clear on this. I am by no means advocating joining people in their sin, dysfunction, or unhealthy patterns. But I am encouraging a conversation. You can join people for a moment in their story and show them compassion without agreeing with their choices. In fact, I suspect that joining them and building a relationship instead of judging them is a much more effective way to encourage someone to make a positive change. I know that I am more willing to take advice from those who are compassionate, loving, and willing listeners of my story. Those who judge me I will give little to no attention. 

Who do you find yourself judging? 

And please don’t give me the churchy answers like “I don’t judge anyone”. This is a place to be transparent and honest with yourself. You don’t have to tell me your answer, this is a moment for you to prayerfully examine your heart. I am the first to admit that I have a judging problem (don’t worry, I’m working through it), so I have no room to judge you. #safespace

Who do you need to join?

Is there someone in your life who you’ve written off? Or is there someone who’s been going through something but you’ve been too uncomfortable to hear their story or pain? Or maybe you feel the pressure to have all the answers so you feel unqualified to listen. But that’s the beauty of joining someone, you don’t need words, or solutions, or answers; you don’t need to be the savior, you just need to be there. 

I can think of no better way to sum up this concept than with this video, where Brené Brown helps us better understand the art of empathy. CLICK HERE to watch.  

Let’s go out into our world this week, not judging, but asking God to give us eyes to see who we need to join in their story to offer a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and the love of God to. 

I am so thankful to have been able to attend Sparrow Conference this year and am looking forward to 2018’s conference! CLICK HERE to register… And remember, don’t judge me, join me! I’ll see you there! 

Sarah Callen | Teaching Team for We Are Unveiled