Realizing the Link Between Fundamentalism and a Judgmental Attitude

I'm a person who hates to be judged and hates to judge... but does so constantly. It's one of my character flaws that bothers me the most.

I judge to make myself feel better (when I know I'm better at something than the next person). I judge even when I know I'll feel worse (when I compare my body and mind with a healthy, young person). I simply can't stop judging.

I've known about this issue for years (and years and years). It was extremely pervasive during a time in my life when it should have been the least - my ultra-religious teenage and early adulthood years. 

However, I never realized that those years were not only when it was at it's worst - those years (and previously) were most likely when it started and became such an important part of my life.

I was raised Southern Baptist. Though not as extreme as some denominations, such as the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptist), the church I went to from the time I was 2 weeks old until I was about 16 or 17 was very conservative. It relaxed the strict standards a little through my late childhood into my early teen years, but the impact was still there.

One of the earliest memories I have of judging had to do with church. We were the kind of family that was involved in the church 5-6 days a week many weeks of the year.

We were there every Sunday morning... of course. Growing up, we also had a Sunday evening service, which we also always attended. (It was a great day when someone was sick and we got to stay home and watch "The Wide World of Disney.)

Monday night was visitation - to witness to those in our neighborhood (think of a tame version of Mormons). Tuesdays and Thursdays were basketball practice nights (my dad coached, my brothers played and I was a tiny cheerleader). Wednesday night was supper and a prayer meeting. Fridays and Saturdays were full of youth activities (for my much older brothers with my parents often chaperoning and bringing my younger brother and me along).

Then it was Sunday again.

Many of my extended family attended the same church. My earliest and best friends attended the same church. Life centered around church. 

We were there pretty much every time the doors opened.

From a young age, I couldn't believe there were people who didn't come every single Sunday morning. I know I wasn't overtly taught to look down on them, but I did.

But it didn't end there. Those who didn't read their Bible every day, or attend Sunday School, or attend all of the many other services and functions were not as good as we were.

As I grew up, the categories expanded. 

If you watched horror movies, or celebrated Halloween, or kissed on a first date, or listened to secular music, or - heaven forbid! - drank alcohol... or committed a myriad of other "sins," I felt superior and judged their behavior.

Sin included even playing with or owning toys that someone said were wrong. (I can't remember by whose influence I learned these things.) Some examples were Rainbow Bright, Dungeons and Dragons, Cabbage Patch Girls and other randomly chosen items that God supposedly didn't want you to have.

Again, I felt superior - and judged their choices.

I had no idea that at the time, but I was learning to constantly judge everything and everyone. 

However, keep in mind that I wasn't off the hook. 

I judged myself. 

I judged the food I ate - it was good for me or bad for me. This led to an eating disorder. I judged how I performed. This led to being perfectionistic and letting how well I did on a task determine my worth. I continued to judge others who didn't attend church as much as I did.

I was miserable - and I'm sure I made others miserable with my "holier than thou" attitude.

Realizing one of the roots of this attitude doesn't help it go away, but I feel it is important. 

Maybe someone reading this hasn't recognized that what they thought was pleasing God actually causes an attitude of judgment. Maybe my revelation will free someone else before it becomes as ingrained in that person as it is in me. 

Hopefully, I'll overcome it - and while I'm overcoming it, I can help others do the same.


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