Someone Else’s Courtroom: How Exactly Did I Get Here?

09 Mar

Someone Else's Courtroom-How Exactly Did I Get HereLately I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by people stepping across boundaries into each other’s lives where they may not belong. Ever feel that way? Sometimes, they are my own toes being stepped on, but often, I am merely witness to someone landing in another person’s courtroom without realizing it.

How did we become so good at grabbing the judge’s gavel and slamming it around?

I’m not talking about expressing public opinion on social, political, or spiritual issues. I’m referring to people jumping into our marriages, parenting, and family business without receiving an invite.

You know those little comments made half in jest or with a veil of concern? The ones that really have nothing behind them other than that person’s different standard, unsolicited opinion, or insecurity? It can look like this:

  • “My kid tells me all of the time what yours had for lunch and how much he wants that, but we don’t feed him processed foods.” (Great, then don’t.)
  • “Why don’t you take care of that and let your husband relax?” (Yes, oh yes, that’s one of my favorites.)
  • “Do you know your kid has seen XYZ movie?” (Um, who do you think took him there?)

Yes, there are times when people speak into our lives with good intentions. I’m not referring to those folks we trust in our inner circle.

The implications of some of the more pointed comments can often be:

“Your parenting is making mine harder.”

“Your husband makes mine look bad.”

Sometimes it’s even: “Let me catch you screwing up.” (The unspoken second part of that thought? “Because that makes me feel better.”)

Well, if you spend enough time with me, be instantly comforted that screwing up is a guarantee! I can’t even get out of my lobster pajamas to get to the early arrival program to drop off my son on time let alone stay calm when we are facing Perseveration #304 during a simple homework assignment. [To see how I get my peace on in these moments, feel free to read about my cool new trick: pretzel breathing.]

But really, why do we do this to each other? Why do we insert ourselves without asking first? How did we end up holding court—or on the witness stand with so many naysayers pointing fingers at us?

If my marriage, parenting strategies, or grown-up decisions in general make someone else twitch, is it reasonable they ask me to adjust?

I believe we do this to each other because we don’t really understand Whose we are. If we could honestly grasp that we were created with a purpose beyond swallowing air for possibly eight to ten decades, we wouldn’t really have anything to question about anyone else. Look at our purpose! Awesome!

Ephesians 2:10, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them [emphasis mine].

We’d realize that when we believe God to be our only and righteous Judge, we are each looking up for guidance from the same gavel that lands with love and gentle correction. What would matter more to us is our posture in entering “His courts with praise.” These courts are the courts of our King in His Kingdom!

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of worrying that our neighbor’s kids can have iPods younger than we allow our own to (and how that somehow makes it more challenging to enforce our family rules), we learned to dwell in a different Presence, knowing our Judge so well that we could “come into His presence with singing”? (Notice that it doesn’t say: “Come into His presence whining about how someone else isn’t meeting our human expectations.”)

Psalm 100:1-5, ESV, King David speaking

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

What if we heeded the greater calling that the Apostle Paul mentions in 2 Timothy? Pleasing the One Who enlisted us. That sounds so much better than pleasing anyone else—or stressing over whether they’ve in turn pleased us.

2 Timothy 2:4, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

I am all about these powerful statements at the end of 2 Timothy 2. Avoid “foolish, ignorant controversies” and “breed[ing] quarrels.”

2 Timothy 2:23-25, ESV, Apostle Paul speaking

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth….

I think Paul has left us fantastic footprints leading out of someone else’s courtroom and back to where we can live in greater peace with each other. I think it is safe to say that in those courts, the life-giving sounds of praise, thanksgiving, and gladness drown out the soul-sucking, wounding hammer of the self-appointed human gavel.

*This blog is also featured at Your Tewksbury Today.

**It can also be found at Grace & Truth Link-Up, Simply Inspired Wednesdays, Me, Coffee & JesusRaRa LinkupFind StabilityBlessing Counters, Pick Your Pin Tuesdaysand Mom 2 Mom Link-Up #24.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).

This blog was a featured piece at: countingmyblessings


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18 responses to “Someone Else’s Courtroom: How Exactly Did I Get Here?

  1. 4gazpacho

    March 9, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Boundaries. People lack boundaries these days. I can’t figure out why either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

      Thanks, 4gazpacho! So true. This issue keeps coming back and landing on my head. I am such a Boundary Enforcer…probably too much so, but it makes me twitch to hear human judgment on what should be, in my humble opinion of course, non-issues. Thanks for stopping by at “Espressos of Faith”!



    March 9, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Oh, how I love this message!! You said it just beautifully. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 9, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Thanks, Christine! It was so kind of you to share it! Could you hear my roar? LOL


  3. Gentle Joy

    March 9, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Great thoughts… this happens too often…. and it shouldn’t…. and I sure want to make sure it doesn’t ever come from me, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 9, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      So true, Gentle Joy! It’s equally important we watch ourselves in this regard as well. When I remember (which is not always), I find it a good exercise to ask myself: “Do I do this?” when I am greatly irritated by someone else’s behavior toward me. Such a great point!


  4. Mary Collins

    March 9, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    We have to keep our eyes on Him in those moments when we are being hit with pettiness. After all, we are here to serve Him and not man. Why bother? Man will never be satisfied no matter what we do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 9, 2015 at 1:17 pm

      So true, Mary. Great point! It shouldn’t get to us so easily, but I’ll readily admit that sometimes it does get to me. My heart hurts when I hear people do this to each other.


  5. Clare Speer

    March 9, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Great word and reminder that we are HIS workmanship! God is our only real and true judge! Love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

      Thanks, Clare! So true: His Workmanship! I have to wake up every day reminding myself that the only voice I really need to listen to is His.


  6. Jennifer @ A Divine Encounter

    March 11, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Rather than being overly critical and purposing to find fault in others, it’s much better to remember that we’re all just people. How much better our lives would be in we would focus on pleasing the One who matters most! Thank you for linking up with us at Grace & Truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      March 11, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Thank you for coming by Jennifer @ A Divine Encounter! I’m really enjoying reading blogs at Grace & Truth. You are so right that being overly critical is a waste of time and pursuit. It steals our energy from pleasing God.


  7. Amy Lynne

    March 13, 2015 at 5:47 am

    This is called being human!:) I totally agree with what you posted Bonnie.:) Well, I’m first to admit I do judge in mind, but now I’ve been convicted to encourage moms especially. I’ve been smiling more to others and engaging in conversations. I’m willing to be stretched, as my insequirites are going higher! I feel so inadequate that I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not perfect.:) We’re all this in together. Praying how I can witness to a particular one, as I don’t know, I haven’t exactly been vocal about faith. The one knows I believe, but I need to really talk to see why the one doesn’t. I had opportunity and didn’t take it, but I’m really trying to get to know person without asking the direct quesiton! In fact, the one knows enough to correct to say faith instead of religion.:) There’s a difference and I’m glad that the one respects that!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    March 14, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Hi, Amy Lynne: Love that you are encouraging other moms! At the end of the day, I think that goes so much farther than any unsolicited advice we might offer. It extends love and grace!


  9. Stacey Thureen

    May 13, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Bonnie, this is awesome! I’d love to sit down at a coffee shop and have a smoothie (sorry I don’t drink coffee) with you while we converse! 🙂 I loved how you wrote: Well, if you spend enough time with me, be instantly comforted that screwing up is a guarantee! Amen! Thankful for your transparency and humor!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 14, 2015 at 10:00 pm

      Thank you, Stacey! That’s so kind! A coffee shop/smoothie place conversation sounds so awesome! I don’t know where I’d be without humor…actually, I do…and I’m grateful to still have it. 🙂 Blessings, and thanks for coming by “Espressos of Faith”!


  10. Susan Gaddis

    July 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Love this post, Bonnie! The message is needed, you’ve presented it beautifully, and every single person I know should read it. 🙂 Loved the humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      July 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Susan, thank you so much! I resurrected this one today as I revisited the issue. I really appreciate your encouragement! Blessings!



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