Nobody wants to be judged. Nobody likes being judged. But it happens, we get judged. In reality, we secretly judge others.
For most of my life, I have been judged and stereotyped – that’s why I don’t willingly offer certain bits of information about myself. I hide who I really am, because I know I will get judged and it wears me down after a while. I shouldn’t hide or worry about other people's opinions, but when I do tell people I go to church, the reactions are always predictable.
“Wow, you?” Yes, me. Then there’s the: “Oh really?” Yes, really. On occasion, it’s been: “Why?” More often than not, though, it’s: “No, you don’t!"
Why do people get shocked at this piece of information about me? Why do their attitudes change when they get this little bit of knowledge? Why is it so hard to believe that I have faith?
At work, I am a different person – I have to be. I am confident in my job, a strong leader, a good teacher. I can be a little outspoken, I can be diplomatic; I can keep calm in most situations. I have to be these things so I can do well. But outside of work, I go to church. Not regularly, but I do go.
When I tell people that I don’t attend a traditional, wooden pew, hymn-singing church, I instantly get called a “happy clapper”. I’ve also been called a bible-basher, but I don’t even know any bible quotes to throw at someone who calls me that.
When I see the looks on people’s faces, I instantly regret sharing my faith. And when I hear the comments and the questions, I definitely regret sharing it. I get confused as to why it's a surprise. I get a little angry at being judged and stereotyped as the sort of person who wouldn't go to church. I do get a little hurt at the name calling; I already get called enough names for having a different accent.
Mostly, though, it just makes me sad. Sad that I get these reactions and comments. Sad that I never stick up for myself or speak up for my personal choices or my faith. I never bite back, I never comment, I just keep quiet. Why should I be made to feel like I should have to justify the fact that I believe in God?
Having faith is my thing, my choice, not other people's. Choosing to go to a church that is full of happy-clapping joy and fun, is also my choice. It’s my special place that’s full of love and friendship, where all are welcome, where no-one is judged. It’s freedom. It’s also a great place to have a brew and meet new people.
So why is it so hard to believe that I am a Christian? There are plenty of us out there. Is it because of how I am at work? I can still have faith and be good at my job. Is it because I don’t spew bible quotes? Is it the way I look, the way I talk, how I dress? Probably. Maybe I’m the prime example of the phrase “never judge a book by its cover”.
Don’t judge me or make assumptions about me by the way I look. And don’t judge me or make assumptions about me when you find out I go to church. That actually hurts. And please don’t treat me any differently. You can still swear around me. You can still curse the heavens around me – it won’t offend me. Asking me ridiculous questions about why I believe in God, however, will offend me.
All of this makes it so hard to be me, a little uncomfortable to be honest. And it’s why I hide who I am. It’s why I’m pretty private. I’m also mixed race and adopted, but that story will really blow people's minds...
The Dispenser is a new, anonymous contributor.