Since infancy, You have taught me to be a good person and loved me and provided strength and refuge to me all these years. But why have the teachings I’ve grown up with also made me so judgmental? Why do you always tell me to put others first so that it has taken me 29 years to finally learn how to love myself after hurting myself for 3 decades?
You gave me the blessing of being born to very loving parents, and gave me a very cool name which means to walk with God. I went to Sunday school even before I could talk, and danced and played and scribbled with crayons every Sunday whilst listening to Bible stories. I learnt how to be a good child and a good person. I have to love one another as You have loved me. I need to obey my parents. I do for others what I would have done to me. I put others first – always. We toil and work faithfully, and You will reward us. You expect us to reach our full potential and not bury the taels You give to our care.
You also taught me “right” and “wrong”. That if I was your child, I need to obey your commandments and not sin against you intentionally. There should be no adultery, no stealing, no killing. You say that homosexuality and sex before marriage and some other acts are condemned before You, and we should turn away from it.
I thought living by these “morals” would make me a “good” person. I was without malice, or ill-intentions. I was kind and caring and understanding to my friends and family. I worked hard in school and beyond. But I never understood, or agree, why You think its wrong to be gay or lesbian or have sex before marriage – I still don’t. But I didn’t question. I always thought of how others would feel as a result of my actions and words. I brought others to You throughout my life (and ironically they all now seem to be much more grounded in the faith than I am).
But in doing so, I might have gone to the extreme. I forgot about myself, to take care of myself. I was more concerned about how my teachers would feel, how my debate teammates would feel, how my boyfriend would feel, how my parents would feel, how my co-workers would feel, how my bosses would feel… and by then, I had no more time or energy to think about how I feel. I was too engrossed in what others want, and how to fulfill their desires for them. I wanted to meet their expectations, because it would make them happy. Their happiness is far more important than mine.
Slowly my energy depleted. And so did my health and soul, because I had no time to tend to myself after looking after everyone else. I was very drained.
On top of that, it was also very taxing to keep up with doing “the right thing”. I wanted to live my life that would please You and according to your teachings. I didn’t want to commit any sin. So my world has always been quite absolute as I was growing up. It was either black or white. Certain behaviours were either good or bad, right or wrong. I had to be obedient and honour my parents and do whatever they told me to – they know best, of course. There is no in between with you. No “but”s, no “if”s.
I started to think in “either or” — he’s a murderer so he’s bad; she slept with so many boyfriends so she’s a bad person too; it’s either listening to all of what my parents say or not. I identified everything and everyone as either good or bad. It was in the schema of my brain and the stereotypes became more and more reinforced as I explored the world.
As I ventured out into the world from school to university to the office, I dismissed “bad people” as a lesser kind who I shouldn’t associate with. I should not drink and do drugs like them, even just for fun. My body is a temple for You, I should not ruin it irresponsibly. Those people who party till morning and wolf down tequila shots are “bad” people hence. I had to keep up my faith for you. I cannot be “bad” like them. And those people who couldn’t pull through university, they were “wrong” too because they didn’t try hard enough or use the potential You gave to them.
I became more and more self-righteous. And this has made me a very judgmental person for the last 29 years. Yet, who am I to judge? Who, in fact, is anyone else to judge – not even the Pastors or Elders of my church. They think they know more and better? I am not too sure. All that hypocrisy.
Jesus I believe in You and You have taken care of me so well. Even in my deepest darkness times You have not forsaken me. But finally now, through the depression behind that armour of strength I portray and so many see, I understand everyone has a story behind – even that murderer sentenced to death, even that guy who played the field and broke so many hearts. I cannot judge them. Nor can anyone else. It is only compassion I should have. I am not more righteous than they are. In fact, they might even be a “better” person than I am.
And I really should stop spending all my time and energy on other people. What about me? What about my life, my health, my feelings? What about what I want me to do – let alone what I would like others do for me? I’m done with doing what everyone else wants me to do, and being who they want me to be – or who I think they want me to be. You have also taught me that I need to take care of myself. And I had forgotten.
There must be a balance somewhere. I cannot take what You teach me into extremes.
It is not Your fault I became judgmental or forgot about myself. It’s my pea brain.