May 18, 2013
By Anonymous

Growing up, I did not meet many people that had different beliefs than me. I was raised in a Christian home, and did not know any different. My best friends went to my church, and I was home-schooled due to all the moves included in my dad’s career. I really never had to face a situation where people did not believe the same things I did. You are probably thinking I grew up as one of those awkward homeschoolers that are antisocial, but that is not true. Yes, I was sheltered from many things growing up, but my family and I also got involved in many different activities, sports, and church groups in the many places we lived. These kind of things helped strengthen my faith and beliefs instead of influence them at a crucial age. Anyway, when someone believed something different than me, I would automatically judge and avoid them. However, that all changed this year.

I had been involved in cheerleading since I was eleven years old, and I absolutely loved it. I cheered on a competitive cheer team, and even though the competitive cheer environment is extremely diverse in beliefs and lifestyles, I cheered at a Christian gym and was still sheltered from the environment. I also cheered at a Christian school where I was never asked to compromise my beliefs. This stayed the same until this year. The gym I originally cheered at went bankrupt and shut down. After taking a year-long break, I decided to get involved in competitive cheer once again.
One of my friends from my school cheer team was on a team at another gym, so I tried out and joined a team there. This was not a Christian gym, and I immediately began to see the differences. Many girls on the team were not Christians and it was very evident. They used much stronger language and did not have the same standards I did. For example, some of them partied and drank on the weekends, while others were rumored to be on different kinds of drugs. Now don’t get me wrong, not all of the girls on the team were like this. Many girls shared similar beliefs that I did, but those that didn’t, made it very obvious. They would tell stories about how they had gotten kicked off of their school cheer team or what they had done over the weekend.

My first reaction was to judge the people on my team and make assumptions about them. Then, we started practicing for competitions. It is unbelievable how fast a team bonds when you put them through the hardest workouts imaginable. We would stagger off the floor during our much needed water breaks, and try to tell one another that we could keep going. I started seeing the people on my team differently. You can’t exactly judge and avoid a person when you suffer the wrath of your coaches together. My standards did not change, and I still did not agree with the things they did, but I slowly became less judgmental. I realized that we all face things that tempt us, and we all go through struggles. Even though I may not struggle with the same temptations and issues they do, God sees all sin the same. No mistake is bigger than another in God’s eyes. This concept helped me love my teammates and bond with them as a team.

My beliefs and standards did not change throughout the season, but my view towards others did. I realized that if I am truly trying to live like Christ, I should love other people, not judge them. By loving people as they are, I am ministering to them and showing them the love Christ has for me and all Christians. The most important thing I learned throughout this season is that I am no better than anyone else and I have no right to judge them. The only thing that sets me apart is Christ’s mercy that I have accepted. I realized that if my goal is to truly stand up for my beliefs, I have to love the people around me and treat them like Jesus would.

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