Here Comes The Judge

From the column Something About Nothing in The Albert Lea Tribune and Courier Sentinel the week of March 20, 2017

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. 

There have been occurrences in the past few years in my life that have absolutely taken me down to my knees in prayer. If you do not believe in prayer or God, then please don’t read this column today. I seldom write about my beliefs, but this week with Lent and Easter approaching, I want to share some of my feelings.

After going through all the experiences and thought processes the past few years, I came to the conclusion it would possibly be easier to not care about anyone. In that conclusion, I knew if I chose the route of not letting myself feel emotion for others, I would have missed out on blessings in my life.

I have been affected by illnesses, divorces, accidents, addiction, to name a few. It has touched and hurt those I care about and love. People have let me down by their actions. I have been angry. I have been sad and I have also not been able to put a name to some of my feelings.

Over the years I spent time trying to figure it all out and cope with all the human emotions. Here is what I know in my life. We are all flawed individuals. We all hold secrets about ourselves no one else knows. We all disappoint others, and we all make mistakes that affect others’ lives, including me.

Holding on to anger only makes me an angry person. Only forgiveness frees me from my anger. I can’t judge another because I don’t have that right. It would be like the pot calling the kettle black. I sin, and I can’t say my sin is less than my neighbors.

I love my children, and I have always told them I will love them no matter what. I may not always like or agree with what they do or enable them if I see they are doing something that is causing them or someone else harm, but I will always love them. I hate the sin but love the sinner. That is the way I would like to be treated. And I extend that to my friends.

Perhaps that is why I feel uncomfortable with judgmental behaviors hiding under the guise of Christianity. I know even though I was brought up to know right from wrong, I am not perfect and I don’t feel comfortable when Christians judge one another and do not show another person caring, but judgment in a church society. I feel my judgement does and should come from God because He and only Him knows the entire picture of who I am. God gave us the Ten Commandments to live our lives and he will decide if we live our lives accordingly.

In a society we have laws and rules we also have to live by, and if we break those rules we are held accountable. But in that system something more needs to happen. Our prisons are full of offenders of what may be unforgivable crimes. These offenders may be a threat to our society. Yet, we have mothers who have forgiven their son’s killers. We have store owners who have forgiven their perpetrator’s crimes. They know the power of forgiveness over anger. And their forgiveness changed the lives of those who committed the crimes.

I have talked to friends who visit prisons and hold Bible studies or teach language and writing skills to prisoners who have felt worthless all of their life and were taught nothing but brutality and crime growing up. These volunteers are changing the lives of those who have not had anyone care about them before. It is not judgment but forgiveness that changes lives.

Those who are in prison are training service dogs, and these dogs are teaching the hardhearted to love. The dogs don’t judge, but they teach love.

This Lenten season in our churches we are learning the sacrifice Jesus made for us, all of us who are flawed.

It is hard not to judge. I have been a very judgmental person until I was taken down to my knees with experiences that taught me my judgment makes an enormous statement about who I am. It means if I judge, I don’t see my own sin. And I personally need that Christian place where I can visit, know I am a sinner, know I will be judged by my higher power and not others sitting in the pews with me. We are all in this world together. Let us pray.

Church? Sports? Priorities Have Changed.

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune week of September 28, 2015

Times have changed since I was young. Religion has taken a backseat to other worldly things in our priorities.IMG_3385

After attending church one Wednesday evening I pondered all the changes that have taken place in the way people worship since I grew up.

In the “olden days” it wasn’t an option to not go to church on Sundays. As kids we didn’t miss anything because the community I grew up in did not schedule sports or other activities during church time. It didn’t matter what religion you were, respect was shown to the religious community.

During my high school days we had what was called “release time,” which was time during the week we were allowed out of school for an hour  to go to our respective churches to learn more about God and our religion. We also had the option of staying in school and having a study hall. Most opted for the religion and I admit sometimes it was just to get out of school, and occasionally we headed for a different church than ours because they were doing something more interesting such as addressing the “sex” topic which wasn’t discussed much in those days — and our parents expected us to attend release time. In fact, I think you had to have a signed note to stay in school and in study hall, but I’m not sure about that because occasionally the memory is weak.

Wednesday evenings were set aside for churches, and there were no activities scheduled in school during these evenings so as to not interfere with the churches. This was called respect.

While raising my kids, church came first and activities came second on the days we had church plans. At that time the conflict was setting in with other activities, but most parents made the choice for their kids that church attendance came first.

I realized when reading a blog by a friend how easy we had it as parents in my day when deciding what was happening for our children on Sunday mornings. Did they always want to attend church or church activities, absolutely not, but they went because as parents that was our priority. Now there is so much pressure put on parents on what to prioritize in their life.

I share with permission this blog post by Kristin Lotthammer, CFM coordinator at Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minnesota. She shares her personal story of the pull of other activities on her church and family life.

 

I would like to share my personal story with you.

Last fall, I had registered my son to play fall lacrosse. When I received the game schedule, I was crushed. Almost all the game times fell right during Sunday morning worship times. At that moment, I had to step back and think … priorities. What really matters to my family, my child? He loves playing lacrosse. How could I tell him he couldn’t play on the team because I was going to prioritize church first? Values, morals, values, morals … kept running through my mind and heart. So, I had a talk with my husband and son. We were all in agreement, God comes first!

I emailed the coach and the lacrosse organization and told them I needed to pull my son from the team. I gave the simple reason that church is still No. 1 in our home, and game times on Sunday mornings were not going to work for us. Guess what, I wasn’t the only parent out there with the concern that sports are creeping into our Sunday mornings way too often! Not long after my email was sent, there was a change. A lot of the game times had been changed to Sunday afternoons. Wow, I thought! What a great organization! They listened and cared!

All we have to do is kindly speak up and sometimes that will help.

I challenge you and your family this year to think about priorities and what really matters in your home. Our children are watching and learning from what we do.

 

Kirsten’s column moved me by her courage to stand up for what she believed in. I am not sure I would have been able to do that in today’s world. If kids miss a game or practice for church they are penalized, so of course parents don’t want their kids to feel the pressure of their choices.

We live in a diverse world, and I feel we should respect each other’s values and religious beliefs. I would imagine all religions have this problem when it comes to choices for their children.

Churches have changed the way they are teaching the younger generation because the priorities of parents have changed. Many churches now offer alternative times for worship to accommodate sports and school activities. I still wonder why it still shouldn’t be the other way around. And let’s be honest, extracurricular sports and activities are important, but how many kids actually will be the next famous athlete or star?

I don’t know the right answer. All I know is that things have changed and I am thankful I didn’t have to make the choices parents have to make today. I do know I am grateful my parents made the choices they did when it came to my faith, because when I struggle or am joyful it is where I turn through thick or thin. I don’t know where I would be if that would not have been my parents priority.

 

Grabatude Attitude

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Who do you hang with? No, I don’t mean hang such as hanging upside down, hanging from a bungee cord or hanging a right or a left when driving a car. Who do you spend your time with and how do they influence how you interact with others in your life?

Recently, I was put in a situation that I was unsure of. I was invited to the Women of Faith concert in St. Paul. I wasn’t unsure of going to the concert, but I was going to be going with a good friend and we would be staying with her relatives. I did not know these people.

I did have some anxiety about staying in a home of someone I did not know, and I am not a shy person, not usually anyway. This was a little of a stretch for me.

Meeting strangers isn’t a hard thing for me to do, but usually when I meet them it is for a short amount of time. That isn’t what this would be. It would be a weekend with my friend and people I did not know. Would they like me? Would I like them? Would we have the same likes and dislikes? Would it matter?

On a recent blogtalkradio interview with Amy Beth Arkawy on the Amy Bethv Arkawy show, Amy made the remark that I was a positive and inspirational person. I reminded her that I am not like that all the time, ask my husband and kids, and a few years ago I would say I was a toxic person. It was not a hard thing to be, depending on the group I was with, to find something wrong with everything.

I am very good at crabbing, and when you are with others who are very good at crabbing you have a great crabfest. Soon though, that attitude becomes part of you, and it is easier to see the glass half empty rather than half full. Pretty soon I was the head crab and would start the crab sessions. I didn’t like the way I was, and I don’t want to be that person again.

When Amy Beth and I talked about inspiration (she is also a creativity coach), I reflected later on what helps me to keep a positive attitude. It is work.

I was very lucky in my crabbiness. My inspirational and optimistic friends did not desert me. Finally after hanging with them I was able to adopt their attitude most of the time. It is hard work to get to the place where it is easier to be optimistic than to be pessimistic and yet some days the crab is back.

I found that if I surround myself with positive people, positive messages and read positive materials that I can be more optimistic in the face of the ups and downs of my life. We can choose who we spend our time with.

Back to the scary, I am having a slumber party with women I don’t know. The minute the first woman got in the car with us I knew I was going to feel at home with her. She wore sparkly cool earrings. She laughed a lot. When the next woman joined our car on the way I immediately felt at home too. She had a case of water. I knew I would not be thirsty. I do that, I drag my water along. We finally arrived at the cute house where we would rest our heads and I would meet another stranger. We were greeted with a huge meal, dessert and the best part was that she was living in my dream cottage home. It felt like home amidst these strangers.

We left for the Xcel Energy Center, and it was named right for the weekend. It was a center full of energized woman, with positive messages and smiling faces. In the midst of strangers we all seemed to be surrounded by friends.

One of the speakers asked if we were crabby Christians. Was there a time when I felt that the silverware in the kitchen needing to be lined up perfectly was more important than the way I treated the people that were lined up in the pews? Do I make the unimportant material trappings in my home and in my church more important than treating people with kindness and respect or am I that crabby Christian along with being a toxic person in a group?

I took a chance to hang with some positive strangers. Those strangers are no longer strangers but friends that I hope to spend time with in the future. If I had let my fear and kept my crabby attitude, I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet new people that would have a positive influence on my life

Take a chance. Hang with someone new that makes you feel good about yourself. It might change your world and your attitude.

A quote by Elizabeth Edwards sums it up nicely:

“A positive attitude is not going to save you. What it’s going to do is, every day, between now and the day you die, whether that’s a short time from now or a long time from now, that every day, you’re going to actually live.”