Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Lessons We Learn, Part 2

I knew this was gonna end up being a useful post title! ;-) There are so many lessons in life, especially a faith-filled life. Yes, I said especially a faith-filled life. I believe that there's more to learn about life when you have Divine considerations/influences in your life. Not only do you have your society's norms, customs, etc. to learn, but you also have those associated with your faith. And often – especially when that faith is centered on Christ – those customs, values, etc. are in opposition to those of your culture. While I think everyone should be respected, the Christian faith teaches that there is only ONE way to Heaven. And that is through Christ. You can be the nicest person to ever grace this planet, but if you deny Christ, you're not going to Heaven. That is because the basic premise of Christianity is Christ himself. Other religions don't recognize Him for who He is. Some people believe that it doesn't matter what you believe, and everyone's right. If you believe in the Christian God and His Son, you're good. If you believe in the Muslim God (Allah, I believe) then you're good. So long as you believe and follow something, you're OK. I believe that is the basic premise of Agnosticism. I could be wrong about that, though, as I don't recognize that as a valid choice. In my opinion, that is a cop out. "I don't wanna choose," for whatever reason. And "I don't wanna tell anyone else what's right or wrong," again, for whatever reason. I think it's noncommittal and just stupid. Sorry if you consider yourself Agnostic. That's just how I feel. People are allowed to bash us Christians and our faith all they want, but the moment one of us says something about other religions, we're the bad guys. Whatever! I don't care what anyone thinks.

And now that I'm done with that tangent, here's what I really intended to write about: being judgmental. How is that different from what I wrote above? Good question. I'll have to think on that one. But, until then, this is what I can come up with on the fly: Christianity is based on a set of beliefs and principles. Christianity is Christ-centered. Christianity has a lot of black-and-white elements, one of which is that without Christ, no one goes to Heaven. Therefore, I don't think that stating these ideas (which I believe are spiritual FACTS) is being judgmental. One doesn't have to believe something in order for it to be true. People didn't believe Galileo when he claimed the earth was not the center of the universe. But it still was true. You don't HAVE to believe in Jesus Christ. You don't have to believe in God. That's because He gave us FREE WILL. That means you get to choose whom you will serve: Him, yourself, some other deity. You get to choose. He doesn't want people following Him out of obligation. He wants your love. I totally get that. I don't want my husband to be with me because he feels like he has to. I want him to be with me because he loves me.

Again with the tangents! LOL Back to the subject. Being judgmental. I have been thinking about this for weeks – maybe even months. Possibly even longer. I'm not sure. What I do know is that I am writing stream-of-consciousness right now, which is why I'm going all over the place. One thing makes me think of something else, and off I go. That's from whence the tangents come! ;-)

And now I'm hoping to remain on topic at least for a full paragraph. Although, I think I'm finding it difficult because this is a tough subject for me. This is something with which I've struggled and felt God dealing with me about for quite some time now. Writing about it is somewhat humbling. But, it's also somewhat therapeutic. It helps me process my thoughts, examine my feelings and the reasons behind them. And sometimes, it helps me better understand the lesson God is trying to teach me.

With that said, I really feel God has been dealing with me about being judgmental. I have somewhat recently come to the realization that I've spent much of my life being judgmental of others. Certain patterns of thought, more than anything, are what it's been. And much of it I hadn't before realized just how judgmental I had been. Some of it never even registered as judgmental, until now. Whenever I find myself reflecting on these thoughts I've had in the past and how I've gained a new understanding, Jesus' words come to mind:
1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ~ Matthew 7:1-3 (NIV)

That is so very true, and so very interesting. (And, no, I have never doubted Jesus' words. I just have a new understanding of them! ;-) ) And God does indeed have a sense of humor, if you can call it that. I dunno. Perhaps in this case that's not the right terminology. All I know is that everything I've ever been judgmental about has become something I have to deal with. I have plenty of examples, too. Don't worry!
  • My weight ~ I remember thinking as a kid (or perhaps a teenager) that I would never be one of those moms. You know, the ones who don't lose the weight after having their kids. Well, there's a reason I don't share too many pictures of myself, and I'll just leave it to that. Yup. I've learned not to be judgmental about that.
  • My housekeeping (or lack thereof) ~ I used to LOVE to keep my place clean. Then I had kids.
  • Being cool ~ I vowed when I was in about junior high that I'd be a cool mom. One of the moms who listens to the current popular music and watches the same movies as my kids, etc. Um, yeah, so not happening. I've done my best to drown my kids in Christian music, and they all like it. But the day Abby comes home loving the Jonas Brothers or Justin Bieber is the day I'll be uncool in this regard!
  • The animals ~ I swore I'd always think of my animals as my furry babies. Then I had real babies. And now, well, let's just say they don't always get the attention they got before the kids came along.

And many, many more things. I swear these are just a small glimpse of things – most of which aren't too serious, thankfully. But, believe me, there is so much more. And every time I find myself reflecting upon things that I once vowed would be one way (to avoid being like one or another person I came across), I shake my head. "If only I knew then what I know now." I sometimes chuckle to myself, and almost always feel like kicking myself.

Now, when I catch myself thinking along those lines. "Well, at least I'm not like her ..." or "That is so not gonna happen with my kids ..." or "At least I'm not that bad ..." or any number of things. I stop myself, ask God to forgive me for having such judgmental thoughts, and get those thoughts out of my head. Sometimes I have to do that several times. I have a new empathy for people, and (hopefully) a new humility. (Is saying I've learned how to better be humble the opposite of acting it?) God is teaching me, dealing with me. I'm trying my darnedest to make sure this lesson is one that sticks!
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