I guess I just had a bad start to the week, because there is an open document on my computer outlining the blog post that, at one time, I had wanted to put up for this week. That post was going to be titled “Pardon my Rant” and would have included some scathing commentary about people who were in a position to help me and/or members of my family but turned a blind eye, people who treat the church like a social club and divide wards into “desirables” and “undesirables,” and people who are just plain hypocrites.
One of the people who came to mind as I was forming the post is someone who has accused me of hypocrisy and of having evil intent when there really was none. When I began unraveling what was going on, I remembered something I had heard in childhood, “when you point one finger at me, you are also pointing three back at you.” With that bit of wisdom, I was able to put to rest a lot of what had been bothering me about how a friend became a nemesis.
The quote also haunted me this week. If I was so willing to point fingers at others, were there fingers pointing back at me? What (other than the cyclical joys of being a woman) would cause me to shift to such a negative view of good people?
I don’t have all the answers, but I do have a few:
- It is true that there are people in every church who treat the institution as a social club. Even though I believe, as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that my religion was restored by divine intervention and is the closest in function and doctrine to what Christ attempted to establish during his ministry on earth, I have to admit that using the church for social benefits has its draw. Whatever the members do or don’t do privately, they wash up well and say and do the right things when they hit the doors of the building. As long as God has had a church on the earth, there are people who hang on just for the show.
- The harder truth is that exercising “reverse-judgement” when I feel that I have been ostracized out of the top church circles puts me on that same level. I am ignoring the truth that every person is a child of God, that every person is important and valuable, and that every person can bring important dimensions to my life. Until I can live that perfectly, I have three fingers pointing back at me.
- It is also true that the people around me will always have their own measuring sticks for defining a “true christian.” Depending on the criteria they use, I may never totally measure up to their standards, and they will feel free to label me as a hypocrite. I may even be labelled as a hypocrite while they are demanding total and complete acceptance and even support for each and every one of their failings.
- The harder truth is that I am not to live my life based on the opinions of others. My “Christianity” and my discipleship are issues between me and God — no one else. The opinions of others will hurt, but I cannot let them define me. If I am call to live in a place of love and forgiveness for all, then that is my focus — not becoming what someone else demands I become.
This list could be a lot longer and this post could be turned into a book. That’s not the point.
The point of this post is a reminder (largely to me) to look at what the “three fingers” are pointing at when I’m tempted to point one at someone else. Condemning through judgement is not my calling in life. The urge can be informative, though, if I look inward in those moments to what is really bothering me.
Meanwhile, I will remind myself that there is no “standard of worthiness” for someone to come to church. The church is for imperfect people who want to know their God, and perfection is not something that can be achieved during this lifetime. So, while I am refusing to let others define me with their opinions and misconceptions, I must also refuse to define others. Life is about growth, and I must make room in my heart for others to grow. When the hurts and the issues raise their head, I must turn to Heavenly Father, the source of all that is true and good, for understanding and for healing.