I honestly don't know if this post is going to make much sense but wanted to write it down anyway!
Lately, I have read a few blogs and articles and had a few conversations with people that have got me thinking. In all of my thinking about the topic, I started to feel like I am part of the problem, like if my life were less "mormon" I could help better. In each situation the people explaining their story have problems or have loved ones who have problems with being judged by others. Each one feels constantly unwanted, unneeded, and struggles with self esteem. While I didn't think I was judging these people, I felt like just because I had a "cookie cutter" looking life, I, (or people like me) were the reason people felt this way. I started to think that my life -or the way it appeared to be- was almost insulting or degrading to others.
Each of us feels unwanted or unneeded or struggle with self-esteem to an extent. Some are more vocal about it, some suppress it. I for one am glad that some of these people are sharing their voice, and trying to be heard. It helps bring awareness to those around them, and in return they can hopefully feel loved and supported through their trials.
The thing, however, that I don't love in all of these stories is that every one of them puts down the ideal with phrases like, "No, i'm not the cookie cutter mormon and I don't want to be." or "Everyone at church is judging me" or "Everyone else's lives are perfect at church, they don't know what i'm going through" or "No one cares and they make me feel left out" or "I'm sick of seeing the perfect mormon families, with their perfect marriages and their perfect kids".
The reason why it's been on my mind lately is that I feel like so often those who are struggling, are often trying to blame their feelings on the way others "appear" to be or how they "interperet" the lives of others. It's not that I don't think people can be mean and judgmental. They sure the heck can be, we've all experienced that, but I wonder if blaming others when they have literally done nothing wrong, is just as judgmental on their part. When we say something like, "they are judging me", when they haven't actually done anything to prove that, we ourselves are being just as judgmental to that person.
We all have our trials. If you were to look at me you may think something like "she has the perfect cookie cutter Mormon life". In a way, I guess I do fit the "ideal" of what it might look like to an outsider. Married at 20, two funny and adorable little boys, a great marriage, a baby on the way, attendance to church on Sunday's in our Sunday best, regular temple attendance etc. We try. We try to do what we are supposed to do. Just by having these blessings in my life and having a certain appearance doesn't mean that I am judging others. In fact all I want to do is help and be understanding, so it seems unfair to put me in this box and judge me for the way that you see me.
Again we all have our own trials. I recently found out that a lady in our ward that I admire goes through 9 months of constant throwing up and sickness with each pregnancy. What a trial! I have a brother and sister in law that have a special needs child and every.single.day. ist'sa struggle while they try to communicate with her and help her. I have family members who have had children make decisions that have broken their hearts. I know several people struggling with anxiety and depression. I know of marriages falling apart, divorces occurring, loved ones passing away, and the daily struggles of friends who have feelings of loneliness, anger, or resentment.
So not matter what our lives appear to look like. No matter how "cookie cutter" or "normal" any family or return missionary or newly married couple appears to be, we all struggle. It may be smooth sailing for moments in our lives, other moments will almost brake us, but none of us is more equipped to be more or less judgmental based on our circumstances.
If you are having a "smooth sailing" moment in your life, let's be more kind and understanding of those who are struggling. If you are struggling and going through your own personal hell, try not to put down those who may be having smooth sailing moments or appear to have it it all together. You may be wrong.
1. Savior, may I learn to love thee,
Walk the path that thou hast shown
Pause to help and lift another,
Finding strength beyond my own.
Savior may I learn to love thee-
2. Who am I to judge another
When I walk imperfectly?
In the quiet heart is hidden
Sorrow that the eye can't see.
Who am I to judge another- Lord I would Follow Thee
3. I would be my brother's keeper;
I would learn the healer's art
To the wounded and the weary
I would show a gentle heart
I would be my brother's keeper- Lord I would Follow Thee
4. Savior, may I love my brother
As I know thou lovest me,
Find in thee my strength, my beacon
For thy servant I would be.
Savior, may I love my brother- Lord I would Follow Thee