Matthew 7:1-2 - Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults--unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. (MSG)
Pulling into the parking lot, I see the nice cars lined up in the spaces; some with the little stick figure family decals (which I think are tacky simply because they are of no use to me). Many of the vehicles even sport a bicycle rack (oh hoity toity). I gaze at the well manicured grounds, smell the fresh paint, and hear the music coming from inside. I think, “Oh Lord, what am I doing here? I don’t belong here.” Hesitantly, I step through the front door. I’m greeted in the foyer by faces; some smiling, some looking like they’ve been sucking on a sour pickle for 14 years. “Sigh. I haven’t even said good morning, and the analysis has started already.” Timidly, I go into the crowded main room. Those familiar with the routine are exchanging pleasantries, giving a quick smile and nod my way. A few more “pickles” are puckering up and nodding my way as if to say “What is SHE doing here?! This is OUR place! Who does she think she is?!” I try to ignore their stares. With shaking hands I hang up my jacket, pop in my headphones, and step onto the treadmill. And so, the fight begins.
I’ve often heard it said that a church is the most judgmental place on earth. Unfortunately, that is true in some cases. However, I believe that the gym is an even more judgmental place. Why? Many of us grew up hearing others constantly tell us that we didn’t match up to their standards of physical perfection (classmates, teachers, parents, siblings, etc).
Hollywood parades the
perky, perfect, plumped up, painted up, air brushed, photoshopped, surgitized,
digitized models of “natural” perfection.
All this while trying to convince us that these people look and stay
fabulous by eating cheese curls, drinking beer, and taking Viagra (pass the
Cheetos please. You can keep the rest of
it. J). We’re used to that constant barrage of
judgment. Now, let’s add to that our
inner dialogue of relentless self scrutiny.
Let’s go even deeper still, and add to that our own guilty pleasure of
picking apart the moves of others at the gym.
See if any of this sounds familiar:
What the heck is she wearing?Man, I’m a girl and I can leg press more than that!
Quit laying all over it; it’s a treadmill, not a Lay-z-Boy!
Oh, please. If I can run, I know you can walk faster than THAT.
Clean up after yourself; your mama does NOT work here!
And on it goes until we’ve successfully torn everyone in the room completely apart. Feel superior now?
Why do we do this? Why is it not cool to be judged so harshly, but we feel perfectly justified in looking down on others? Because deep down, we are really trying to stifle our own screaming shortcomings and failures. If we can convince ourselves that others are not doing as well as we are, then we can hide our own defects and give ourselves the grace that we also need to freely give to others. Another reason we do this is because we secretly think that others are thinking the same things about us.
What do I mean? Well, let’s analyze a couple of my examples from earlier:
What is she wearing? If I judge someone else on what she is wearing in the gym, then I don’t have to look at my own shabby, old as dirt, too big to be wearing outfit with embarrassment.
Man, I’m a girl and I can leg press more than that! Yeah, Wonder Woman’s legs look super pressing 130 pounds (insert athletic grunt here), but they don’t look so hot trying unsuccessfully to figure out Zumba moves (insert cuss word here).
Clean up after yourself; your mama does NOT work here! OK, OK, OK, people really SHOULD clean up after themselves, but in all honesty, giving them the stinky eye is not going to make them pick up a towel and clean their sweaty ooze off the machine. Just go to the machine, say “eww” (no, don’t do that J ) and clean it up…and then be sure to be a good example and clean up your own ooze.
Second Corinthians says, “Not that we [have the audacity to] venture to class or [even to] compare ourselves with some who exalt and furnish testimonials for themselves! However, when they measure themselves with themselves and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding and behave unwisely” (Amplified Version). So, what’s the cure for the judgmental/critical thought pattern? Three little words: MIND YOUR BUSINESS. The owner of the hair salon I used to frequent used to say this whenever any of the “Sister Bucket Mouths” started gossiping—a bunch of women gossiping, imagine that. Anyway, wherever someone started to spout off some not-so-kind and usually not-so-true words about anyone, she’d stop them in their tracks and say, “Now, mind your business.” Even the Bible tells us to mind our own business in First Thessalonians, chapter four, verse eleven. When I find myself turning into the gym’s “Sister Bucket Mouth,” I say to myself (sometimes out loud—yeah I know I’m weird) “Hey, mind your business!” Works every time.
In what areas do you need to “mind your business”?