A Judgment-Free Zone

Exercise at Gymnasium by TSPDave (Pixabay.com)

Exercise at Gymnasium by TSPDave (Pixabay.com)

The ad for a national fitness center franchise promised that for $10 a month I could enter a judgment-free zone.  It gave the hours where I could escape the judgmental world around me to enter a place where no one judges my looks.

Does that mean that from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays (18 hours a day) and another 16 hours on Friday and 12 hours on Saturday and on Sunday, I can go there unafraid of anyone looking at me with a critical eye?

If so, that adds up to 130 hours a week I would be accepted just as I am without any stares or negative comments from those around me.  I wonder how it would feel to fearlessly do what I really need to do without any comparing glances and raised eyebrows.

Need for affirmation

My reaction to the ad says a lot about our culture. We judge each other by our outer appearance. So our need for affirmation counteracts our need to do what is healthy. Our self-consciousness overrides our need to humble ourselves enough to get fit, regardless of the intimidation of the sleek and strong working out next to us.

I can visualize how the fantasy of a judgment-free zone could apply to other times and places in our week. A judgment-free hour at the family dinner table with no negative talk certainly would be refreshing. Or a coffee break at work where no one disparages the face or form of his or her boss, employee or co-worker. No gossip about who needs to go on a diet, update their wardrobe or get a makeover.

Judgment-free Sundays

We could designate one Sunday a month as “Judgment-Free Sunday” in our parishes. After Mass, we could enjoy donuts together free from concern about anyone’s shape, size or wardrobe. As Christians, we could take it so far as to stop judging each other’s children, singing or piety. We could all just accept one another as brothers and sisters in the Lord made in different expressions of his image.

Not judging one another is a wonderful gift to receive and a generous one to give. Take a moment and consider what area of your life you would you like to live judgment-free. What hour today can you give the gift of acceptance to someone near you?

(© 2012, revised 2017 Nancy H C Ward)

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at JoyAlive.net,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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One Response to A Judgment-Free Zone

  1. Ivy says:

    I joined the gym last week with that same motto here in Florida. I too reflected about my part in a judge-free zone outside those walls. It’s a habit that I am attempting to turn on myself (gently!) and replace my thoughts on the unity and dignity of the human soul in others. Its not easy all the time and often feels like a sacrifice but the resulting grace is JOYful.

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