Lets say, you have no idea who I am. You have never met me in person, and have never spoken to me in any digital way either. You and I are strangers.
But lets say, you meet me. What do you think? How do you judge me?
According to the number of people I have had the pleasure to meet over the past year or so, I have heard things like, You are so happy, and energetic and kind, with a love for God and a shinning spirit that you can see through both my eyes and my smile. And when I tell people about my past, which is something that I still fear and dread. They say things like this, I never would have imagined that you have gone through all of that. Or. You are so strong, and brave, and you have overcome so much.
When you first meet someone, you do not know what they have been through. Where they have come from, and the hardships they have encountered along the way.
I do not claim to know what you have gone through, I do not know what horrors you have seen or personal experienced.
I am no better then you are. I am no better then anyone. I am not perfect. Nor will I ever be perfect. None of us will ever be perfect while on this Earth. There was only one man to ever live who made it out without a stain of sin marked against him. Jesus Christ.
It was just Easter, a day to celebrate the miraculous gift that Christ gave for ALL of us. The gift of his atonement. The only way to overcome sin, and use the divine power of Repentance to turn our once dirty sins, into pure white snow of sinlessness.
One of my favorite hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is Lord I would Follow Thee. with my favorite part, found in the second Verse.
Who am I to judge another
When I have walked imperfectly
In the heart is hidden sorrow
That the eye can't see.
One day we will all meet our Maker. We will all stand in front of him, with everything we have ever done playing out in front of us. In the book of Matthew, Jesus taught us about the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Matthew 25
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (and when ye have judged one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me)
It is easy to judge others. We do it each and everyday. We judge others based off of appearance.
For example, a 21 year old in sweatpants, and a t-shirt and no makeup looks as if she isn't trying at all. Maybe you will think she is lazy, or poor, or tired. But maybe she has been stressed for the past week because he father is in the hospital and she has cried everyday for hours on end. She has grown depressed and exhausted, none of her friends understand, and they have stopped texting her to ask if she is okay. Their pity has run thin and they no longer want to talk to her when all she does is cry. She feels like her only option is to kill herself. And that day that you see her in the grocery store, buying vodka and pain medicine is the day she plans to at last get rid of all her pain.
Or a man with a torn shirt and dirty pants, and a sign that says Homeless, Anything helps. You may think he is a dirty alcoholic, that threw his own life away, and his homelessness is his own fault. But maybe he was laid off of a job as a janitor at the local high-school that he had been working for 10 years. Maybe his wife was suffering from cancer for many years, and had recently passed away and all of his savings paid for the hospital bill and he had nothing left because his kids had blamed him for not having enough money to pay for more treatments for their mother and had stopped talking to him. And he was left with nothing.
Or maybe a young child, who dresses like a "thug", and has the habit of saying at least one swear word in every sentence. You might think that he is some low-life kid from the "hood" with little to no education. That doesn't care about anything or anyone. But maybe he is crying out for help on the inside, maybe all he wants is love. Because his father was shot in front of him at the age of 6, and his mother is a drug addict, always in and out of jail and his older siblings dropped out of high-school at 16 to sell drugs for their gangs. Maybe he is afraid of the day he gets jumped in, maybe all he wants to do is run away. But he is afraid that he will be killed for turning his back on his "so-called-family".
All they need is love. Charity. The pure love of Christ. We are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves. To love them like they are Christ themselves. Maybe all she needed was someone to stop her and give her a hug, or say something kind. Maybe all that old man needed was a friend. Maybe all that young boy needed was someone to finally care about him and tell him something positive for once in his life.
I am very open about my past. I get real and raw and I am vulnerable. I do not write these things because it makes me look good. Hah. The things I write are things that I would rather keep hidden away in a dark place to never see the light of day. But I know that what I have gone through is not an isolated incident. I know many others out there who suffer, and are still suffering from similar trials. I have felt that I need to share my story, because maybe I will influence someone else out there for the better. Maybe I will save a life.
If you were to only judge me based on my past, you would see me in a much different way then I truly am.
My past is in the past. The truth is, my past will always be a part of me. Everything I have done, every choice I have made, every trial I have ever faced has shaped me into who I am right at this very moment.
But, I am NOT my past.
I am not that 15 year old that thought I found "The-One". I am not that 15 year old girl that gave everything she had to someone she shouldn't have. I am not that 16 year old girl who tried to kill herself. I am not that 16 year old girl who would scream at the top of my lungs at my parents. I am not that 16 year old who ran away. I am not that 16 year old who was fading away, who was dying from the inside out. I am not that impulsive 17 year old that had to learn the hard way. I am not that 18 year old in over her head, who had to run away to get away from that boy who wanted her hand.
And while these events in the past aren't very distant in some ways. I feel like they are thousands of years away.
Because through God's Mercy, through Christs ultimate sacrifice, I can become new, and clean once again. You may not think I have changed. And that is okay. Sometimes I still struggle to let go of the guilt. Sometimes I feel worthless, and unworthy of Gods love. Because why should he love a sinner such as me?
The truth is, your judgment still hurts. When I know people see me only for my past, I cry, and I get angry. Not at them, but at myself. Because I can never take back my mistakes. I can never make you forget about that high-school version of Arianna. I can't change what I have done.
But I can use my mistakes to refine me. I can use them to strengthen me, and to teach me. And I can hope that you can see me as me, and not my past.
My favorite quote and my motto for all time and eternity is
Mistakes in the past, Don't Define you.
They Refine you.
Everyone walks to a different step. No one has ever had the same two life experiences. Everyone goes through their own hardships. No one has the right to judge you. Everyone is LOVED by our Heavenly Father. No one is worthless in his eyes. Everyone struggles, and if I walked in your shoes, I don't know if I'd be as strong as you. No one has walked a day in my shoes.