the right way to love

“Don’t judge me, but…” is a phrase all of us use or hear multiple times a day. Usually, this phrase precedes a statement that we think may be deemed “weird” or out of the ordinary.

For example, I’ve said, “don’t judge me, but I was in marching band in high school” on multiple occasions. Then one day, I caught myself – why did I think people would judge me for that?! Just because I was a band nerd doesn’t mean I should be ashamed of it… I freakin’ loved marching band and I’m not afraid to say it. However, whenever I said something about band and how much I enjoyed it, people would laugh and say things like, “you don’t seem like you’d be the type to be in band” or, “oh you must’ve been SUPER cool in high school”. What they didn’t know is that band changed my life – from participating in All-State band to placing 3rd at the WGI World Championships (drum line and percussion ensemble competition), I made life-long friendships and met so many people who positively impacted my life. Through drum-line, I became the driven, dedicated, and confident person I am today. The people who judged me did so before they knew my entire backstory – this is so typical of our society.

We’re all guilty of judging someone we don’t know.

We may judge them based upon what we’ve heard from other people, the way they present themselves in public, or who they associate with. This is so, so unfair. That boy who bullied you in middle school? His father beat him every night. That girl that sleeps around and can’t maintain long term relationships? Her self esteem is in the tank because no one ever told her how beautiful and loved she is. That boy in class who everyone thinks is weird and annoying? He has Asperger’s but is too ashamed to tell anyone. That girl that cut all of her friends off 2nd semester of freshman year? She was suffering from debilitating depression and couldn’t even get out of bedyet, people talked behind her back, calling her horrible names and assuming she was “just a b*tch”.

So, why do we feel the need to judge these people? What gives us the right to make a decision about someone’s heart when we’re too selfish to even hear their story? As a society, we’ve become self-righteous and egoistic, prompting us to expect immediate gratification in everything we do. We don’t want to take the time to get to know someone – we would rather judge them quickly in order to determine if we should pursue a relationship with them.

This is the opposite of what the Lord calls us to do.

“’Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:31]

If this is the greatest commandment, why do people so fervently defy it? How would we feel if others judged us as we judge them?

By treating someone unfairly, we’re failing to acknowledge that this person is a child of God and our Brother or Sister in Christ. We are all made in the perfect image of God –

“’… when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” [Matthew 25:40]. Christ is in everyone, and we should treat others in a way that regards this ideal.

We should never have to fear the judgment of others, nor should we be so self-seeking that we fail to love and build up our neighbor. “Don’t judge me, but…” is a phrase that should be completely eradicated and forgotten.

This movement starts with us.

As individuals, we must alter our attitudes and actions, thus opening our hearts and allowing us to show compassion and kindness to everyone we encounter. You never know when a simple smile or a small conversation could make someone’s day or even save their life.

Next time you see that bully from middle school, smile at him. Next time you see that girl who struggles with relationships, tell her how beautiful she is and how much she is loved. Next time you see that “weird” boy from class, sit next to him and get to know his heart. Next time you see that girl who is struggling with depression, just love her and be there for her.

“… He that is without sin … let him first cast a stone…” [John 8:7]

Don’t judge someone because they sin differently than you. We are all so incredibly loved by our Savior, and we should never fail display that Christ-like love toward others.

Love your neighbor, y’all. 🙂

Love Always,

Alexa

 

taking on life one cup at a time

Let’s be real here… Most of us REALLY hate waiting. While waiting is certainly a component of everyday life, it almost seems as if we spend every. single. minute. waiting for something to happen: waiting for the bus, waiting to get that final grade back, waiting for class to be over, waiting in traffic, waiting for a significant other to text back, etc. (you get the gist of it). It gets frustrating, right? We wake up in the morning only for our entire day to be one big game of “hurry up and wait” — we enter a task only to wait for the next one to begin.

I will be the first to say that I hate waiting — frustration fuels my impatience and basically consumes my mind. During my first semester at UGA, I was impatient about a lot of things: Will I find a boyfriend? Will people like me? Will my professor actually learn how to teach? Will people in Athens learn how to drive? (still wondering about that one…). I was so preoccupied with speculation of the future that I forgot to live in the present… and honestly, I think a lot of people can relate to that. We get so caught up in “what’s going to happen?” that we totally ignore “what’s happening right now?”. We spend so much time worrying about the future that we fail to realize our actions in the present dictate the very thing we’re so unsettled by.

The future is full of uncertainty and wonder — a concept as terrifying as it is beautiful. If our impatient minds become consumed by contemplation of future endeavors, we are not able to focus on the things in our present life that truly matter (cultivating friendships, pursuing God, etc.). If we cannot control our present, our ambition dwindles and our faith suffers. And that’s exactly what happened to me. When I began my freshman year at UGA, I unknowingly burdened myself with impossibly high expectations. When I wasn’t able to meet these expectations, I basically questioned everything: my faith, my relationships, myself… and then I realized that this fairytale land of happy endings and rainbows I had created in my head would never be MY reality. Why? Because GOD is the author of our lives — we are only characters in His novel. He’s already written our story, and our only job is to act it out in a way that glorifies and honors Him. However, we will not always agree with his plot and we might even question his timing. THIS is why we must have the virtue of patience: it gives us the capacity to “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” [Romans 5:3-4].

BUT.

but.

(bout to get a little crazy here!!!)

There is virtue in impatience, as well.

Yep. I said it. I know… y’all are probably thinking I’m crazy because I just spent this entire post talking about how impatience is essentially detrimental to those who possess it… but hear me out. If ones’ impatience connotes feelings of anger or annoyance, that is obviously not the virtuous type of impatience I’m talking about (duh). However, to do something “impatiently” entails that one is actively, fervently, hungrily, enthusiastically, and earnestly pursuing it. Impatience is of the mind — patience is of the heart. A hungry mind paired with a tolerant heart is the most powerful tool one can possess. If we really utilize this tool, we can

  • Impatiently construct our futures
  • Impatiently gain knowledge
  • Impatiently pursue our goals
  • Impatiently love others

all while

Patiently trusting the Lord’s perfect timing, never failing to impatiently seek Him.

“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life…” [Romans 2:6-7]

Waiting is hard, and God knows that. He knows that we’re imperfect and cannot always be patient with Him — but this is why He is patient with us. When we kick and scream and question His plan, He is patient. When we doubt His mercy and love, He is patient. We sometimes don’t realize that His ultimate plan for us is SO CRAZY AWESOME. Having patience through suffering will one day lead us to joy much greater than we could ever imagine. Laura Story says it best:

“What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?”

(“Blessings”, Laura Story…  click on the lyrics to hear the song!)

Patience is like a hot cup of coffee… if you chug your coffee right once you get it, you’ll get burned. That’s why you just gotta relax, trust in the Lord, and take on life one cup at a time.

Love Always,

Alexa