I just read an amazing article on Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.  I am sure I have plenty of company when I tell you I fell in love with the person Phelps was during the 2008 Olympics.

I cannot believe it has been 8 years since he sent us all running to TV sets to watch him break Olympic records.  The records setting was fantastic, but it really was the way he swam, his focus, and above else the type of person he seemed to be.

Let's not forget his Mom! I loved her more. Anytime I saw her in the stands, I would tear up.  Imagine what it must feel like to watch your child perform on the world stage, in front of millions, and do what no other person has done.

Then, the Olympics ended. We saw a downward spiral with this young man who seemed to have risen to the top of the world. We watched him make terrible choices.  We watch him choose drugs over a clean and successful life.  He seemed to turn angry, and want the rest of the world to let him go.

Many of us didn't want to let him go.  We wanted to believe he was still in there. 

Many others relished in the idea of tearing him down.  "Just another athlete, choosing to destroy his life." 

If you are in the second camp, I know that it is human nature to rush to judgement in this case.  It feels easy to watch him tumble, and say "Well, it's his fault.  He had it all, and just threw it away. I would never do that."

Please, please read the article I link to above here. (after you read this :) )  In a world where judgement is easier to jump to than compassion, I truly believe that compassion is the path that will heal us. Believe me, I had moments of judgement as I watched news of Phelps' demise.  

However, I was just mostly sad.  I was sad for his mom.  I was sad for him.  Why, oh why, would that be his choice?

When you read the article, you will understand.  The article has a religious slant to it, so if you aren't a person of faith, please read through it anyway and learn about the obstacles he tumbled over.  

It shows why we all need to fight against our instincts of judging someone, and try to understand why they are doing what they are doing.

On a daily basis, I make parenting decisions that send people into a judgement spiral. They will tell me to my face I'm overprotective. If you read the blog I wrote in June, you may understand why I am proudly overprotective of my girls. 

My point is, we all have a story.  We all have reasons why we are standing in the moment of life that is seemingly the wrong spot. I have friends who judge their own family for making the same mistakes over and over again.  I was (and sometimes still am) one of those when it came to my mom.  100%!  Of course, I have my reasons, but I also have judgement.

I started recently to assess Mom's story more. I started realizing she makes decisions using the tools she has. She wasn't given many tools. I try to understand this more.  Believe me, as I said, I wasn't always this way, but I'm starting to understand this concept more.

With Michael Phelps, I know it is easy to say, "He had it all.  He had money, major achievement, a fantastic mom, and fame. I don't feel sorry for him." He was obviously missing a few tools to make him turn away from bad decisions.  

He didn't like himself for a long time.  This makes me sad.

It also makes me understand the decisions he made.  I celebrate that he was given a chance to turn it all around.  I will cheer loudly for him through the TV set, just like in 2008.

Only this time, I will know the struggle it took to get him there.  His story will also help me to better understand others' struggles. 

Dropping judgement is difficult, and it is a process, but I work on it often.  I fail often. I try again, often.

I hope the article, and even perhaps my personal blog, will help you to also try understanding over judgement... if you are also in the process. If you already have it mastered, please share your insights.  I will take all the help I can get. 

Published by Kimberly Morrise