Fear and Judging (a post that’s not about my tattoo)

This is a post about my tattoo that isn’t really a post about my tattoo.

Wait! What tattoo?!?

The one I got myself as a belated 40th birthday present. A little watercolor-style hummingbird on my wrist. (Which, for the record, is my second tattoo.)

I should also go ahead and tell you I’m a chicken. Not about the tattoo. I’ve given birth with no pain meds; I can certainly handle the annoyingly scratchy discomfort of a tattoo.

{sitting for my tattoo; photo by owner of tattoo studio}
about tattoos and judgmental attitudes

[Before I go further, let’s not debate here about tattoos; if you are in the anti-tattoo camp, I respect your opinion but please save that argument for another day because it’s NOT the point of this post.]

My chicken-ness is about speaking my mind. I’ve come to realize far too many of my decisions are influenced by the possibility someone may judge me. It pains me, sometimes even physically, any time someone is disappointed in me, or even if I just think they might be.

A few reasons for my hummingbird tattoo:

  • Hummingbirds are an awesome example of God’s intricate design. A mind-boggling amount of engineering in such a tiny package!
  • Rescuing a hummingbird years ago and holding it in my hand (so light I couldn’t feel it!) was a happily memorable experience.
  • They make me think of my Granmama.
  • Every time a hummingbird visits our feeder, it makes me smile. It feels like a happy little wink from God.
  • Hummingbirds can fly all the way across the Gulf of Mexico — a seemingly impossible feat — because that’s what God made them to do. It reminds me I, too, can do the seemingly impossible if I’m doing His will.

I have one more reason for getting this tattoo: I want to NOT care what people think about me. Whatever I do is between me and Jesus. NOT between me and the people in my Sunday school class. NOT between me and the moms in my homeschool group. NOT between me and anyone else. I believe that in my heart and my head, but when the rubber meets the road, I turn into a chicken again.

I’m a people-pleaser to the core; this does not work well with being bold.

I wasn’t going to share my new tattoo anywhere online. Let’s face it, friends: Christians,  sometimes Christian homeschoolers in particular, can be an intimidatingly judgmental bunch. (Rebecca wrote about that recently.) I felt like I’d already have enough to deal with in real life without opening myself up to more potential criticism online.

Judgmental attitudes are toxic.

This has me thinking more and more about how easily we tend to fall into judgmental attitudes. I want to see people through Jesus’ eyes. But if I want to get over my tendency to judge, I also have to get over my own fear of being judged.

So I worked up my courage and posted this on instagram:


It’s not about the tattoo.

This judging/being-judged really doesn’t have much to do with tattoos; it’s about parenting, homeschooling, blogging, skirt length, and a thousand other things.

I almost quit blogging.

In recent months, a number of things have been said and done in my offline life to leave me feeling a bit broken. People who once cared about me have expressed disappointment in who I am, and I’m not even sure exactly why. Most of my questions won’t be answered this side of heaven. After these things happened, I considered quitting blogging and social media altogether. I thought I’d just meet any remaining blog obligations I’d already made and then drop off the face of the online world since I’ll never be able to please everyone.

Putting myself out there online simply felt like yet another way I could let people down.

My blog exists in large part for me to celebrate key events in my life and to record things I want to remember in our homeschoool and beyond, but I also think of my tiny little corner of the interweb as a place to encourage others. Thankfully, I’ve received emails and comments from readers expressing appreciation for what I share or letting me know how my blog has blessed them in some way. These kind words have reassured me that doing what I’m doing is worthwhile. So I’ve decided: I’m not going anywhere. {I hope you’re relieved to hear that!}

I’m attempting to be brave.

One of these days, maybe — just maybe — I’ll learn to be brave enough to say what I need to say and do what I need to do without worrying about the response.

This post is one more little step in that direction.

Do you fall into fearful or judgmental attitudes?

In what ways, groups, or situations have you felt judged? Did/do you face it well? Or, how do you struggle most in regards to judging others?