I am a judger.
I am one to judge people - I always have been. Mostly in my own thoughts, silently in my head, but oftentimes out loud to my friends, too. I judge everything: people's choices, their relationships, their morals, the way they present themselves on social media, and even shallower things like what they are wearing or how they do their makeup.
I am going to preface the rest of this post by saying none of this is easy for me to share. We all have parts of ourselves we are not proud of - this is one of mine. But it has become so important to me that I am willing to write about my own internal struggle with it, because I know many if not all of you can relate.
I have lived my entire life being a "judger." With my friends, my parents, to myself. The worst part is, I grew up thinking it was okay. Everyone talks about everyone. As long as you are kind to someone's face, what you say or think behind their back isn't harmful. I was a "nice girl" through and through - that's what I thought, and that's what I wanted everyone else to think, too.
This past March, for spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica for the second time. I would once again get to live and work in a Mustard Seed orphanage for the mentally and physically disabled for the week. If you have read some of my other posts, especially this one, you know that my spring break mission trip to Jamaica last year changed my life. This year, I went into the experience with a completely open mind, knowing the effect it had on me last year, yet unsure what to expect for myself this year.
At the beginning of the trip, one of my good friends in our group was reading a book called Love Does. It is about a man and his inspirational life story all centered around the message that love, above all else, truly does have the power to move mountains. For some reason, the singular phrase "Love does" really stuck with me going into our week. I made a commitment to myself to approach all the upcoming interactions, rewarding and frustrating alike, with a mindset of love.
Surrounded by the residents at Mustard Seed, it was so easy. So easy to see love in all of them. So easy to show them love. So easy to show the orphanage staff who dedicated their lives to caring for the disabled my love, too. So easy to feel the love around me every night when my friends and I would gather in our mission house to sing, play a guitar we found with only five strings, and share memorable stories from the day or from our lives back at Elon.
However, a few days into the trip I started thinking. In general, our society judges and ostracizes those who are "less" than us: the poor, the ugly, the different, the wrong, the disabled, the whatever that makes them different from us. Myself, as a judger, included. Why was it so easy for me to show love to the residents, who embody absolutely everything we usually judge in our society? Why did I decide now was the time I wanted to show love, but back home I did not show any love or compassion to those who were "different" than me?
Love does do many things, but love absolutely does not discriminate.
My initial feelings were confirmed in my mind when I heard a passage from the Bible in a reflection on our trip. It is still completely relevant even if you are not religious. Matthew 7:2-3 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 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?"
For days and weeks afterward, I could not shake the weight of those words. Did I want the way I was judging others to be the way by which I'm judged? Why was I focusing so much on the faults, or simple differences, of others when I could put that energy into working on myself? I felt like I had been punched in the face. Why had I spent so long just accepting the judgements, often harsh and uncalled for, that I was making?
Here's why: because it so easy to. So easy to accept the narrative that is constantly, silently going through your head judging the people around you. So easy that, often, we don't even realize how negative our internal narrative is being and how much of a disservice it is doing to us.
I challenge you to really listen to your internal narrative when you find yourself in an uncomfortable or frustrating situation. Judgements are often small but come in multiples, over and over before they are so common in our thoughts they are like white noise. When I tuned into mine, it was easier for me to identify what thoughts I wanted to exile and what thoughts just needed to be tweaked a little.
It does not happen overnight, and it's a long road ahead for me to rid myself of the judgement I put on both myself and others. But, I am confident that, like I said, love does. Love does forgive and move on, and love is more powerful than any judgement you could impose on yourself or anyone else.
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
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