Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Judge Not

Why does it seem so easy to judge those who judge me? I can’t get it off of my mind, but I seem to get over annoyed with those who think they are perfect and live a perfect Christian life. I grew up in a Christian home, and was homeschooled and was raised with strict rules and standards that were completely above any type of normalness. Well I am exaggerating, but looking back, it seemed as though my childhood was laced with religious standards and meeting obligations of others. I don't blame my parents for it all, because at the time that was the only influence they had, and the kind of people they were around... I would go to these homeschool conventions. A huge organized church would open their doors for a week to provide thousands to come and hear speakers who talked about homeschooling and Christian living type conferences, plus they would have booths set up to sell Christian Curriculum to all of the homeschool, Christian families who came. It was quite a production, and almost every year, I would sign up to be a runner, who basically would be there at the conference to run errands for people and set up and tear down the conference. I met so many people my age, which I think the social aspect of this was beneficial for me, however, I remember sitting in on some of the speakers, and can’t remember anything they shared, but draw a HUGE BLANK. I remember meeting families that were huge, like one family I remember had like 12 children and I remember all the girls wore dresses, and the boys wore blue dress pants, and apparently that was their standard dress. I was not forced to wear a dress every day, but the thought of it drives me crazy… It reminds me of this show on TLC about a family who has 18 children, and all the girls wear dresses, and the men pants. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, and to me it is like bringing the Little House on the Prairie days back… How crazy sounding is that?! Anyway, so a little of my background and familiarity of this kind of living I guess has put a bad taste in my mouth now that I find myself in a much different place… I know, it sounds judgmental, but this is my dilemma, people who live totally different than I, I feel judged by them because they have this higher standard of living, and I don’t mean rich, but religiously taken over and if I don’t meet the standard that they are living at, then I feel judged. Or did I build it up in my head and am making this more than it is? I guess my issue is when I was growing up, the only people I spent time with or hung out with was homeschoolers who lived pretty much the same way I did. Saw them at church every Sunday, and some throughout the weeks. I grew up with these unspoken expectations of how a Christian is supposed to live, and that was for woman to get married and immediately produce a family, even college for woman was not talked about simply because it wasn’t done… I had no real taste outside of this club until I was college age, and even then I was still pressed to be this certain person in these people’s eyes. I don’t even think it really had to do with a relationship with Father, but, religious agenda’s that were forced on others. Do I still deal with a lot of angst over my religious filled childhood? Absolutely. However, I hope that each day Father will help me to let go and release this of which I am holding on to. I do not want to judge those who live the way I explained, but sometimes it is so hard to ignore and back down from the judgments they have so seemingly put upon others.


Laurie said...

In all fairness Nic, I'd like to offer another view of your childhood. Your upbringing may have been less confining and restrictive than you remember it or than you are presenting it. Our intention as your parents was to raise you in the nurture and admonition of the Lord not into religious bondage. If you will remember we broke away from the oppressive influences before you did. We quit participating in the homeschooling convention club before you and your brothers did. We encouraged you to go to college. You were not over-protected and ridiculously cloistered. You were permitted to listen to music of your choice as long as it was not glorifying things that God opposes. You wore fashionable clothing and makeup. You may not have been encouraged (or allowed) to date as a young teenager but I consider that to be wisdom from the Lord not some legalistic bondage. You were homeschooled because our educational choices were limited by where we lived but also because every time we sought God as to what we were to do about schooling, it was the only answer I felt I received from Him. (IMO the public school system can be as much of an institutionalized, freedom stealing system as the institutionalized church but that's a whole 'nother subject.)

We attended and participated in the organized church because it was what we felt led to do at the time. I guess it was part of all of our journeys. Even after you were on your own, you continued attending organized churches and became upset with us when we left the religious baggage and bondage of it before you did. I realize that I am just being defensive here but our heart's desire as your parents was always that you belong to Him in this world, not to a religious system that prevents someone from actually knowing Him as much as a full-on embracing of the world's practices and philosophies does.

Everywhere we go and everyone we are exposed to in this world there are those who are trying to influence others to their way of thinking. You can't have a conversation with someone, or turn on the news or watch a movie without some sort influence being exerted to one degree or another. Each one of us will have to depend on the Lord to give us discernment about what we expose ourselves (and our children) to. We are all limited in what we know and understand and what has been revealed to us so making judgments about others can only backfire against us because we too are oftentimes unaware of how we may be deceived in our beliefs or the choices we are making.

Maybe we should just entrust ourselves and others to Him who judges justly and stand or fall before our maker. Thankfully, He is able to cause us to stand.

Anonymous said...

Boy, could I ever relate to you on many levels. I definitely do not ever wish to be judgmental. However, I am fully aware when judgmental thoughts pop or creep into my mind. Truly, much more than I'd like. Those little buggers!

Yet, I do recognize it's how I respond to them that makes the difference. It's my hope that I will "stop" them at the thought level, before I say or do something jugmental.

P.S. I love this graphic/image! Very cute!

~Amy :)

Nicole said...

Mom, I am not blaming you for this, what I was trying to get across was how the religious system influenced us in a lot of ways and most of the ways it did, was not your fault. I know it was where we were at the time and I understand that you did what you felt lead to do at the time as we were growing up, but, I guess I am still dealing with how the system had that influence on me and in many ways it still bothers me...
I am not wanting to come across judgmental, for that is why I titled this, judge not. I am just processing a lot of who I was involved with and what things in the system did the most damage to me!!! I love you mom!!!

Thanks Amy for coming by, I am glad you made it through this post even though you saw some pretty ugly things here... I hope I was not coming across rude or in any way judgmental, but I think releasing this kind of stuff is a process in which we need to reflect on these influences!

Love and Freedom, Nicole!

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