We All Judge Each Other and That’s Okay

I’m not saying it’s okay to hate anyone. I’m not saying it’s alright to use derogatory names, ignore someone because they’re wearing a tshirt you don’t like, or assume you know someone you’ve never met because they own a certain kind of car.

But we are human and we can’t NOT see the evidence of who people are right in front of us.

If I got a tattoo of butterflies on my ankle you’d probably think I’m okay with tattoos and also that I like butterflies. If you heard me swear you would assume I find that kind of language acceptable. If I wore a t-shirt that said “I hope your day is as nice as my butt” you would probably assume I’m confident with myself and that I don’t mind getting a little more attention. If I told you I enjoyed painting and knitting you might assume I am a bit creative. If I told you I did a little mechanic work you might assume you could ask me if I’d be willing to do work on your car at some point. If I posted a meme to my Facebook that mocked conservative ideals then you might assume I’m more liberal.

All of these things are perfectly acceptable assumptions. And that’s ALL they are: assumptions. Maybe I hate butterflies and I had to get the tattoo on a dare? What if I’m secretly not confident with myself at all but think that wearing that shirt will help me feel better about myself? What if I’m actually terrible at painting and knitting so I’m not really creative at all, I just enjoy those activities? What if I’m actually conservative but I thought the meme was hilarious even though it went against my ideals in some way?

If you talk to me, I’d tell you the truth. But if I don’t come out and say things plainly then you have to rely on your own intuition and judgement. *Gasp* JUDGEMENT???

Google’s definition of “Judge” in the context I’m talking about is to “form an opinion or conclusion about.” Doesn’t sound so bad, right? I think, like many words, it’s misused a lot. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while then you have probably already formed opinions about me. Technically, you’ve judged me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some people say “Don’t judge me” or “Who are you to judge me?” and honestly, the ones I hear saying that the most and the loudest are those who aren’t living the most healthy lifestyles. You know the people I’m talking about and you already know the people who are the exceptions to the generalization. They’re making choices they KNOW have negative repercussions then they say that anyone who disagrees is ‘judging’ them.

Let’s get this straight, disagreement is not judgement. Judgement is me forming an opinion about your character based on your behavior and/or dress. But that’s not a negative thing at all. It’s necessary. Parents make judgements about who to let their children be around. If they’ve seen evidence that you’re not a good influence then yeah, they’re judging you. They’ve formed an opinion about you.

The problems come when you form an opinion based on incomplete or incorrect information. THEN it becomes something of a negative. Making judgements is fine but we can’t let a single interaction shape our entire opinion about someone. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt and a second chance.

We also need to let our judgements and opinions grow. Too often I hear someone talking about a person they haven’t had contact with in 4+ years. Sometimes people change and sometimes they don’t. We have to be willing to let our opinions change as new evidence is given to us.

I remember very few first impressions but I do remember meeting my friend, we’ll call her Gillian. I didn’t like her. I didn’t get her jokes and honestly I wished she would lose interest in the club we’d met at and never show up again. I ended up spending more time with her as we participated in club and I started to like her. There wasn’t a moment where I just stopped disliking her, I simply grew to like her. If I had chosen to stick with that first impression and let it taint all our interactions with negativity I never would have become friends with her and I would’ve missed out on knowing a great person.

We all form opinions and make judgements. That’s okay. Just keep them realistically in check and be willing to change them as we all learn and grow together!

 

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Christians Need to Stop Making Excuses and Memorize Scripture

Christians Need to Stop Making Excuses and Memorize Scripture

I grew up in a Christian home, attended church regularly, and went to most of the youth programs that the church offered. One such program was called AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed ((it’s based on 2 Timothy 2:15))). The main goal of this program was to have kids memorize verses of the Bible (crash course if you don’t know what that looks like: the Bible is split up into large sections called books, those books are split into chapters, and the chapters are split into verses that are usually a few sentences long). It also included games and teams and prizes, rewards for memorization that appealed to us kids. It was a good program and a fun time, even for kids who didn’t regularly attend church.

At home, my parents helped me learn verses by heart for AWANA but beyond the church program my dad actually made a series of small booklets of the verses he thought were most important for us to learn. He calls it the Survival Kit. It’s just the very basic scripture he thinks every Christian should know in order to most effectively follow Christ. I don’t have a booklet handy but I would venture to guess each one has about 60 verses, that’s like 2 chapters of the Bible depending on the book.  I did the first booklet through high school. Also in high school I was on a Bible Quiz team where we would study one book or a few shorter books of the Bible and then we were pitted against other teams to show our knowledge of the book. We ended up memorizing quite a bit of the books we studied.

Let me tell you, the verses I learned have saved me more times than I can count. Being able to fall back on them at any time has not only gotten me out of temptations but it’s also been insanely helpful during discussions about scripture as well as when a fellow Christian needs encouragement. I can also really consider the words when they’re permanently in my head. I can think on them, consider their meaning, and understand more when I go over them in my mind.

It was my first year of college when I decided what I really wanted to do was memorize a full book of the Bible and I chose Romans. I got the first chapter of down and so far haven’t progressed much more than a little into chapter two but I’m working on it, as per resolutions.

So I’ve done a lot of memorization in my life. Well, a lot by most people’s standards. I haven’t done nearly as much as my dad has and I think my mom also has me beat since she continued on with the booklets and is up to at least 6 now. It’s still not something that just comes instantly to me. I still have to work for it and I still have to focus and I still have to constantly refresh what I’ve learned so I can hang onto it. My mom’s been working on the booklets for five years and she said it’s taken that long for memorizing to begin coming a little easier to her.

I’m not sure I’ve heard more excuses for anything than when a Christian doesn’t memorize scripture. Everything from “I don’t have time” to “I just can’t memorize things”. The latter is honestly the stupidest excuse I’ve heard. Unless you have an actual medical condition that prevents you from forming memories then that is a total lie. You memorize people’s names, you memorize your route to work, your favorite movie lines, TV ads, book titles, your to-do list, the menu at your favorite restaurant, etc. etc. the list could go on. Stop pretending you can’t memorize a few lines of text a couple times a week or month or year.

The Bible is the core of a Christian’s beliefs so if you’re going to base your entire life on something then you better know what it says. I find it inexcusable when a fellow Christian tells me some convoluted reason for not memorizing scripture. I’m not saying you should be trying for a whole book or that you’re not a Christian if you’re not memorizing scripture (Jesus talked to Jews who had memorized the scriptures yet didn’t believe the Gospel) but you should be trying. You can’t just ignore that in 1 Peter 3:15 we’re told to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” and how can we do that without KNOWING the Bible? The Psalmist tells us to hide God’s Word in our hearts. How can we justify NOT doing that? How can a Christian look at the Bible, the foundation they rest their life on, and think there is any excuse that could possibly justify not memorizing a single part of it?

How can we say we have love God’s Word if we’re unwilling to do something as basic as committing some of it to memory?

 

To be helpful, I found some articles that talk about methods of memorization if you would like some tips on how to get started:

Crosswalk

Biblegateway

Christianity Today

The Case Against Classics in High Schools

I HATED classic books in high school. (Ironic since English was my best subject.) They were long, tedious, and boring. I did read most of them anyway (confession though, I never read The Scarlet Letter and completely faked that entire paper, sorry WK!). I didn’t care that water was a symbol in The Awakening (for the record I still don’t know what it symbolizes because no one ever told me, we just kept saying “water is a symbol!” without ever explaining it). I didn’t care about the symbols or motifs or literally anything else because, for the most part, I didn’t understand them.

That is exactly why I think high school students should be reading more than classics. I won’t say to get rid of all classic literature altogether because I think that’s a narrow view that isn’t necessarily what I want to promote. I want to open up a discussion here about not applying them so liberally and adding Young Adult (YA) literature to the curriculum.

Classics were written for adults. They weren’t designed for high school students, they’re dense with often obsolete or difficult vocabulary. They’re books that professors can read and teach 150 times and still notice something obscure about a symbol or interpretation. That’s pretty great for adults in college or adults or even adults. But I don’t think your average high school student is an adult quite yet.

I’ve learned significantly more about classic works I studied in college. Some of them are the same ones I studied in high school. I understand many more nuances because in high school I just didn’t have the proper abilities to analyze things so far above my reading level. For real though, we’re asking students to analyze The Great Gatsby when they may have just finished reading something like A Series of Unfortunate Events. Bless the teachers who try to make sense of 1984 to a room of 16 year olds. Yeah, it has significance but you know what else is significant? The Hunger Games. It’s also a dystopian novel with an overbearing government using extreme methods to control the population. The difference is that 1984 was written for adults and The Hunger Games was written for high-schoolers. I know that at the time of writing many classic works there wasn’t a YA genre but hey, it exists now and we should take full advantage of that.

There’s an argument that YA literature is somehow “not challenging enough” or that it’s “not really literature” in the same way classics are. The former is part of my point: I needed something less challenging in high school. I was not a slacker. I was an A student in most of my courses. I did my work and tried but I still didn’t understand a lot of what we analyzed in classic literature. It was too challenging for me and many of my peers. We made stuff up all the time and I guarantee that students are still doing it. And it wasn’t the C students complaining loudly before class about not “getting anything” out of the reading/worksheets. These were the A students, the smart kids, the people who got 114% in each of their classes. So instead of understanding how to analyze a book, we learned how to fake analysis. Just repeat the teacher’s words in a different way and maybe throw in something about how the color of the curtains was significant. Done.

The year I graduated from high school a generous person or group donated a classroom set of The Hunger Games (which would explain why I’ve been using it as an example here). As far as I heard from one of my teachers, that set was for the advanced English classes. At least it’s a start. Or WAS a start because I messaged one of my English teachers and to their knowledge the set was no longer in use.

I definitely learned about analysis in high school but I feel like I missed out on a lot. By the time I grasped a concept we were done with the book, speeding through at a pace I could never hope to sustain at my level of understanding. When things finally clicked later on I could actually start to appreciate the classic works. I still don’t like the majority of them but at least I can articulate why now.

The most important thing, to me, that education should do is teach how to think critically. Once you can do that then you can learn anything on your own. Analysis of books on your own, thinking about the media you’re consuming, is incredibly important to raise an educated society that doesn’t rely on someone else to straight up tell them what the water symbolized in The Awakening. They should be able to eventually articulate that on their own. Forcing someone to study something beyond their capabilities isn’t productive. It simply teaches them, as I was taught, to hate and resent the material.

Young, Miserable, and Broke

Young, Miserable, and Broke

It is no secret that millennials are facing more debt and financial problems than any generation before. I was actually going to link to a few other pages that illustrate that point but there were 1.4 million results for my Google search and I didn’t know how to narrow it down so I’ll leave it to you if you feel some research is in order. When I look around at my fellow millennials I see hard working, dedicated, people who are drowning in seas of debt, mental illness, societal expectations, and fear. We got a raw deal, born at a bad time. It happens. “You’ve just got to work hard and pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” Oh really, thank you for that sage advice from someone who could pay off 80% of their college costs with a few years of a summer job.

Money is holding back a huge portion of this generation. More millennials are living with their parents longer. Why? Some would say they’re just being lazy. Why don’t they find a job? Oh, I don’t know, maybe if there were jobs out there that paid enough to live off then they could get one? I think it’s hard for some to imagine life stuck in one place because they’ve never really been there. Like here I am trying to get out of debt. I’m trying to do the right thing. I don’t want to live with these loans hanging over my head when my future is going to inevitably hold more (for a house, possibly a car, etc). So I’m staying at my parents’ home, working and paying my loans and putting more on the principal when I can. And I’m stuck. I can’t afford to leave.

Here’s something else though, that can be easily overshadowed by the huge money problems. Millennials are disillusioned and unhappy. We work minimum wage jobs to live under the poverty line, frozen by mountains of debt. We start feeling apathetic. Debt is pretty much inevitable. We’re always going to be poor. We’re going to be stuck in our parents’ homes forever. We want to move on. We want to do good things. But so much evil exists in this world that it seems insurmountable. How can we do anything for others when we can barely take care of ourselves? We’ll never be happy. We’ll never fulfill our reasonable dreams of doing work that we don’t despise, helping other people and the environment, and being able to afford to eat out at a nice restaurant maybe once a month without having to eat nothing but ramen for the next two weeks.

That’s partly why I actually quit my second job this week. I let them know a couple weeks ago that I didn’t want to continue past today. There were a lot of little reasons I can justify quitting it: the pay isn’t good, I got less than 6 hours a week, scheduling conflicts abounded, etc. Whatever. Those are all parts of why I left but I think the biggest reason is that I hated that job. It wasn’t bad work and I liked most all of my coworkers. I think most people will understand having a job where you just feel completely drained. Where every single shift you just stand there and think “what am I doing with my life?” and “I can’t believe I work here.” An hour into a six hour shift thinking all you want to do is lay down and die is not how I want to spend my life.

I’m fortunate to be able to quit. I know there are many who NEED two jobs just to put food on the table. It’s a luxury for me to not have to keep a job I hate. My parents are okay with me quitting but I think they’re also disappointed.

Here’s the thing: I’m sick of being told it’s normal to be broke with a miserable job in your twenties while simultaneously being told you should do what makes you happy because you’re young and should experience life.

So I quit the job. I may or may not look for a different second job. I might just take this opportunity to go as hard as I can on getting a book done (I feel like I’m always saying that and somehow it still doesn’t get done!). Maybe I’ll find something online to supplement my income.

You don’t have to be miserable to work. If you need that income, do what you can to find something else so you can quit. Just because you’re miserable in one minimum wage job doesn’t mean you’ll be miserable in all of them. I know people who are happy working where I quit and that’s great for them but not for me. You’re the only one who has to live your life. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you have to live it miserably.