Friday, June 12, 2009

Do as I Condemn, Not As I Do

Dear Bloggers,

We’ve talked a lot about the normal views of maturity, but there’s another form of immaturity that I would like to talk about. Even though I’m giving a Christian perspective on it, it truly is something that I personally believe is true for ALL religions, or lack thereof.

Many people ask me, why is it that I went through so many tumultuous events in life, but still seem to have a smile permanently attached to my face? Well, when I was younger, I became a Christian. For me, it truly did help me out in life. I no longer felt depressed, or angry.

The joy I felt was something so tangible, and I NEVER felt anything like it before in my life, and I began to become EXTREMELY excited, and EXTREMELY dedicated to spread the Word. I became a mini-Evangelist, and went around with my Bible, and tried to talk to my peers, teachers, and even principal about Jesus. The only problem is, when people expressed a dislike for my beliefs, or didn’t want it crammed down their throats like I was trying to do, I would begin to condemn them.

“Well, if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re going to Hell!!” Instead of fighting with my tiny fists, I began to fight with the Word of God. I truly thought I was winning the “Good Fight,” but little did I know that not only was I losing it, but I was losing possible recruits due to my own actions.

When I reached high school, I became worse. I would walk around my campus, and would observe all the “lost sheep.” People would enter class on Monday mornings and would laugh about their drunken escapades, and as I glanced at my “won’t have sex until marriage” promise ring, all I could think was: “I’m soo glad I’m not like that.” My other Christian rhetoric quoting friends felt the same way, and I actually felt pity for my classmates.

It wasn’t until I reached college that I got the RUDEST awakening. I realized that the only reason why I never really participated in the rambunctious actions of my peers was because I didn’t have the opportunity to. My parents, being the extremely protective people that they are, would not let us hang out with people that they didn’t personally know. Not only did my parents have to know my friends, but they had to know their parents. So, if I came home on Friday night asking to go to a party at Joe Somebody’s house, the answer was immediately “No!!” It was easy holding on to my purity pledge because right after school I had band practice, and immediately headed home where my mother was waiting with a barrage of questions. It was easy to seem like a good girl, because I never had a true opportunity to be a “bad” one.

It wasn’t until I took my promise ring off and had sex that I realized how flawed everyone is. The next morning, I felt horrible. Not only because I broke my vow, or the fact that I was the one who truly pursued breaking it, but because I had now felt like I was the same as the people that I condemned. Then when I decided to straighten my game up, I went to hang out with a friend at her campus for Spring Break and got drunk at the age of 19. WHAT WAS HAPPENING TO ME?! Then, when I was SURE I was going to get back on track, I ended up having sex with my NEXT boyfriend.

By this time, not only did I feel uncomfortable at church, but felt uncomfortable just saying my blessing before eating my dinner. I was the same person who I condemned in high school, but in my eyes I was worse. I KNEW that I shouldn’t have been doing the things that I was doing, but I did them regardless!!

It wasn’t until someone called me out and asked me how could I call myself a Christian and still do the things I was doing that I had an “a-ha!” moment. I realized how unfair it was to expect perfection from others, and then have the nerve to expect people to have grace for me whenever I messed up. While in college, I was able to become extremely humble, and realized that NO ONE is perfect. I also realized that I have NO Heaven or Hell to throw ANYONE in, and anytime I want to point out someone else’s imperfections, I’m reminded of my own.

As a Christian, I acknowledge that I’m a flawed individual, and everyone else is too. The same things that EVERYONE struggles with, I struggle with as well. It’s hard for me to not want to go to a bar and get completely plastered, then when I do, I do struggle with condemnation.

The same thing is true for all religions. There are many times when you want to be the best representation of your religion, and sometimes that might cause you to condemn others for not following as rigorously as you are. Or, you could be an atheist, who will point out other’s flaws, or the times they fall in their religion. Both ways are signs of immaturity. You will never be perfect, and just because you accept a religion doesn’t’ mean that it erases the fact that you’re human, and you ARE going to occasionally fall. If you do not want people to expect perfection from you, then do not expect it from others.

As I try to work on myself, I’ve made a new pledge. I pledged that I would never judge anyone due to their past, present, or future. As I’ve moved forward with my maturity in Christ, I still have my moments of Christian immaturity (doing things I KNOW I have no business doing). However, I’ve matured since my first finger pointing days. Now, the only person I’m pointing a finger at is me.


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