This week I’ve been pretty hard on me. Can you relate?
As an introvert, it is possible that I spend more time inside my own head than some people. And that’s okay. I like it there. I have it decorated just the way I want it. It has my favorite Cthulhu throw rug. A strange ooze drips periodically from the ceiling to say hello. And it serves as a boarding house for all the wayward monsters that everyone else was too scared of to offer a cup of tea. (No, I’m not being figurative. I really like strange, bizarre things. If you don’t believe me, read my book “The Fish in Jonah’s Puddle.”)
The problem arises when a problem arises. It is often an area that I have stumbled in. Or failed outright. Or feel like I could be doing better. And I start thinking about it. And then I start kicking myself about it. And then I start obsessing about it. And pretty soon I’ve convinced myself I’m just a few steps above worthless.
Or maybe another person makes a comment. Or brushes us off. And rather than just letting it roll off and moving on, we start thinking, “What if they’re right?” This is then followed by, “I think that they are.”
I don’t think anyone is better at hurting us than we are at hurting ourselves. Even when others injure us, that injury wouldn’t have near as much power over us if we didn’t start thinking about it, chewing on it, and letting it run rampant in our own minds. So, in the end, the damage is compounded many times over from the initial injury. I think often there wasn’t even a real injury there – we just took it as such.
I think one of the most interesting parts of the current American culture is the regular flirtation we have with inferiority and insecurity. In fact, flirtation is definitely the wrong word. Our always on, always connected culture has given us so many ways and so many times to compare ourselves with others. And often the people we find in those connections look happier than us, skinnier than us, better than us, or are just plain vicious through their comments, attitude or actions. All of these can serve to further solidify our marriage with rejection and self-judgment.
I was in prayer this week, and I was deep into “I’m a lousy person” territory. I was apologizing to God for all of the ways I’d failed Him. And I was doing a thorough job of ripping myself apart. But then a fascinating thing happened: a scripture that Paul had written jumped into my mind. And it stopped me dead in my tracks. (I pace while I pray.)
In 1 Corinthians, Paul is talking about being judged and judging. And he says, “In fact, I do not even judge myself.”1 As soon as this sprang into my mind, it completely changed everything.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I think it is incredibly valuable and necessary to self-assess your actions and beliefs and habits, and to correct them for the better. But that is the difference between conviction and condemnation. And I think we very often mistake the two. I know I did.
What would your life look like if you stopped judging yourself, and left that to God? Would you be happier? Would you have less stress? Would you be healthier? Would you sleep better?
I’m pretty sure the answer to all of these is yes.
In today’s culture it is easier than ever before to hate ourselves. To loathe who we are. But who we are, if we’re a Christian, is in Christ. We are in process. We are still maturing and growing. But when God looks at us, He sees His son. He sees who we will become. And He sees all of the potential He created us with. And He loves that person.
The time has come for us to sweep aside condemnation, and to just be hidden in the shadow of God’s hand.2 You are not a failure. No matter what you’ve done, God is bigger than your greatest sin. He is mightier than your weakness. He is more loving than your self-loathing. Have you made a mistake? Fine. Say you’re sorry, repent of it, and move on. Leave it in the past where it belongs.
You are special. You are important. God loves you. And anything that contradicts that is a lie, whether it came from someone else or the depths of your own mind.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”3
Judge not yourself.
My book, “The Complete Cancer Diaries,” is now available. You can order it on Amazon in paperback here or in eBook here. If you enjoyed this, you’d enjoy the book. God bless you, and thanks for your shares and comments.
- 1 Corinthians 4:3
- Isaiah 49:2
- 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:5