Judging others based on my last 19 hours of success...
I've learned something today about being human.
I started watching what I was eating yesterday around 9:30pm. I haven't even gone 24 hours with my newfound position as the "watchdog of health and dieting". But guess what? I've been keenly aware of how overweight people are today. Not only have I been eerily aware of how portly "he is" or "she is" but I've concurrently found myself feeling like I'm glad I'm not undisciplined like "they" are in my eating habits. The basis for this condescending spirit? 19 hours of eating healthy. 19 hours and I've turned into a luminary on the subject of overeating and dieting. 19 hours and I find my brain looking at others like slothful slugs. 19 hours of focus gives me the audacity to be the judge, jury and executioner of all things food and fat. 19 lousy stinkin' hours.
And it hit me...whatever I happen to be focusing on in any given moment becomes the most important thing in the world. Not only the most important thing in the world, but what should be most important in everyone else's world since it's the most important thing in my world. Whatever is filling my mind becomes paramount and I'm offended if someone else isn't aware of how powerful and life-changing this particular thought is.
"Look at how much they're eating...wow, they already are 50 pounds overweight at least!" "How could they drink that latte? Don't they know how many calories there are in that baby?" (I just drank two 22 and 24 hours earlier at the airport, but no matter, that was another lifetime in my mind. I'm a new man and I've been a new man for 19 hours.)
It progresses to something darker. "Why don't people care about what they eat? Why don't they see this as a spiritual issue? Why aren't people appalled at themselves for their disturbing consumption." (This being thought by a man who only 22 hours ago had a massive chicken wrap from a fast food deli and 16 hours ago had a huge plate of lasagna at an Italian restaurant with complimentary buttered garlic rolls. I even asked for more rolls to mop up the leftover sauce on my fine china plate.) My evaluation of others' behavior is only based on 19 hours of newfound discipline. My judgement of their attitudes and actions is anchored in 19 hours of transformation. I've become the maven of munchies, the czar of obesity with my 19 hours of professional credibility. I've earned this honored place with blood, sweat and tears...the honest and honorable toil of a superficial superiority.
I've fallen out of a stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down.
But this is what we humans do. Whatever I'm doing good at in the moment I'm standing in becomes my grid to evaluate the world. Never-you-mind my blind spots, I don't use those as standards until they are momentarily strengthened putting me in a favorable light. I switch my standards based on the shifting sands of personal strength in the moment. If I'm doing well at "abiding by the speed limits", I can't believe anyone else could break the law without seeing it as a spiritual issue. If I'm waking up early to pray and read the Bible every day, I don't see how anyone could call themselves a Christian without doing the same. If I'm staying sexual pure, I become the master of masturbation-prevention. If I'm becoming environmentally conscious, I hate people that don't recycle even though I just started last week after x-amount of years of doing as I please. You see how this works?
Anias Nin says, "We don't see the world as it is, we see it as we are."
This is sick, sorry and sad.
It goes a bit further than just temperamental and temporal standards set on the basis of our momentary soapbox or "pet-issue turned pep-talk" or special interest. There is a tendency to be "good at something" or "have abilities that lend themselves to a certain area of gifting" and we gravitate to appreciate and validate only the things that fit those categories. If you're academic, you look down on the aesthetic. If you're an activist, your look down on the artist. You read the Bible finding the verses that support your pre-suppositions and pre-conditions. You value only those things in life that applaud your "sweet spots" and downplay those areas that you "don't care about" or find "superfluous" not thinking for a moment that your lack of enthusiasm for "x" could be directly connected to your weakness, inability and wholesale "bankruptcy" in the area of "x". The best way to feel great about your "wheelhouse" is to treat ever other interest or affinity as an "outhouse".
It's amazing how people's theology is chosen less on what the Bible has to say and more on what aligns best with their strengths. If I'm studied, I see "x". If I'm storied, I espouse "y". If I'm spirited I align myself with "z". And so on and so forth.
I'm sure more could be said, but I'm getting all worked up, so I will end this disturbing line of thinking.
I just hate how I do this. I hate that today people were being led through my slaughterhouse of "dieting discipline" just because I decided to be sensitive to my eating habits. Chances are that I won't be thinking about this next week, it will be something else and everyone around me with have to capitulate to my newfound "stump speech". It might be landscaping, biting my nails, or adoption. Whatever it is, could you do me a favor? Don't listen to a word I'm saying cause more than likely it will pass like the weather.
Let's make a pact, an agreement. Say this along with me: "I, (state your name), will not hold you hostage to whatever my "pet passion" is, judging your value on the basis of my current strength. I will afford you the grace that I hope you'll afford me when I don't measure up to the 19 hour 'perfection streak' you're on in a given area, whatever that may be. I do herby solemnly swear to let God guide and direct your life so long as you let Him do the same for me. I realize that there will be occasional tension since God works with different timing in each of our stories, but I think we will treat each other more humanely under this mutual agreement. Most atrocities start with lapse of judgement in this subtle, yet seismic shift of perspective. Atrocities like the Holy Wars and Crusades of the past, and the holy wars and personal crusades of the present. I will give myself to the discipline of letting Jesus write your story instead of me, so help me, God."
Ok, that feels a lot better. Everyone can go on eating whatever you will, I will probably be joining you after this "health zealotry" dies off, which according to my track record with be sometime later this evening.
Have mercy on me, a sinner.