My title is offensive on purpose. Why should we call anyone a “freak?” Ugh. Though I’ll tell you that I’ve secretly, silently applied that label (and worse) to people. A friend and I used to joke, though only with nervous laughter since we knew it wasn’t funny, that we went through our days acting as if life were a talent show, and we were the judges. And no one got a very high score.
When do I most harshly judge other people? When I’m anxious about how I’m doing, how I’m being perceived, how I’m feeling inside (all wobbly and weird and “other”). We all have those experiences, don’t we? Those times when we’re in a crowd and we want to disappear into the floor boards because we wore the wrong thing, we don’t understand the joke, or we just know in our bones that this is the occasion upon which we’ll be found out, discovered as an impostor, banished to Siberia or Mars.
We don’t talk about this stuff enough. It’s not a topic for polite company, for some reason. Is there anybody among us who won’t claim this relentless other-judgment? If so, you’re a lot better human being than I am (which is probably true anyway).
I have had the miraculous experience of wondering how in the world I was going to obey the command to “love my neighbor as myself,” and then finding that when I prayed and asked God to help me do that impossible task, my love mojo really did multiply by a huge factor. In fact sometimes I’ve felt bubbling, awestruck wonder for the incredible, image-of-God creature in front of me, somebody I had been tempted to assess negatively seconds before. From “critical” to all Kumbaya, warm and fuzzy, rainbows and hearts, violins playing, and thunderstruck.
All of which would sound a bit hyperbolic if it hadn’t happened time after time. It’s far preferable to my inherent cynicism and scapegoating of others when I’m focused on my inadequacies. I’m grateful that I, a freak/geek, can ask for help in doing the impossible. I do it a lot.