In the rural hills of the Bible Belt where I grew up, I was taught a number things about how to live “right”. Emphasis was often put on behaviors that were considered sinful or not in accordance to the Bible or will of God. Sometimes the teaching was direct perhaps, through a sermon heard on a Sunday morning. Other times I was taught indirectly through culturally promoted ideas.
Through most of my youth and early adulthood I have felt the intense pressure of measuring up to a seemingly unreachable expectation of living “right”. Most of the time I have failed miserably. But, over the last few years there is one particular fault which I have come to regret more than anything else.
I regret the judgement I have passed on others.
In my quest to live “right” I found that it was easy to slip into deciding what was right for others too. I have felt intense shame and guilt when I remember times which I have potentially made others feel the sting of my self righteousness.In the past I have been fortunate enough to feel that sting which came from someone who was possibly trying to “help”. At the time I remember the rage I felt toward those who I felt were imposing their religious opinions on me. I say fortunate because I now realize that it has been through those experiences that I learned how important it is to treat others better in future relationships.
Recently, through a period of searching my heart for the person I want be, I realized that my fear of sin had created someone whom I did not want to continue to be. So, I changed.
The first step was to become aware that I did it at all (judged or persecuted in the name of religion).
Becoming aware of my own self righteousness has been the biggest gulley I’ve had to cross in my Christian life.
1 John 1:8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us
I realize now that during the times I have felt the most inadequate, have also been the times I’m the most critical of those around me. This brought me to a change in terminology for myself.
I will focus on living well, not necessarily “right”.
Who of us can really ever live right anyway? We can’t. For those who profess Christianity we rationally know that we can’t. For me to aspire to live well encourages me to extend more grace to myself. When I’m forgiving of myself I’ve found that the ugliness of judgment rears it’s nastiness much less frequently.Earlier this week I saw this meme and thought “wow, isn’t that the truth”. Then I realized, how often have I been perceived as a religious person? Since I shifted my focus toward growing in love instead of growing religiously, I have found a peace unlike any I ever experienced. I am a Christian, a sinner and I will aspire to live well.
My religion is Love. And everything is as it should be. ❤️Xoxo-Brandi