Yesterday I had a mini epiphany.
We all know that we have no business judging each other, right? We’ve read that in the Bible, we’ve quoted it to each other, to ourselves, maybe even with a wagging finger to our judgey loved ones.
We know why we shouldn’t judge.
We shouldn’t judge because we’re all sinners. We’re all on our own journey.
And we don’t have the right to decide who is worthy of His grace and who isn’t.
And I actually do get that. I have plenty of planks in my own eye that need to be tended to. I believe strongly that there’s much more power in love and encouragement than in judgement and discord.
All week this week, I have struggled. Remember the day that Discouragement came knocking? Well, she got creative this week. And I think it’s because Poor Me and Selfishness were already sitting around my dining room table, commiserating over coffee.
You know how sneaky Poor Me is and you know how manipulative she is.
I’m pretty sure that one or the two of them let Discouragement in the back door.
And she sidled up beside me and whispered discontent in my ear until, before I knew it, the house was filled with these malicious, malignant bedfellows that are really not friends to me.
But oh, how quickly they convince me that they are.
Discouragement told me that I would never be able to get the support for Peter and the Good Samaritan Orphan Homes that they need.
Discouragement told me that I would likely never finish the book I’ve begun…because everyone knows I never finish anything.
Discouragement told me that my back was just going to continue to ache and continue to trouble me.
Discouragment told me that I’d never be the mother I’m supposed to be.
And for a while I argued with her, because I didn’t want to feel discouraged.
But then she upped the ante. “You’re not going to be able to raise the money for the orphan homes…you’re not like World Vision, you don’t know enough. You’re not missions minded, like so many other Christians. And anyway, you’re always going to struggle financially. You don’t have the sort of blessings that this friend has…” and she named names. And she called me out to judge my circumstances against those of my friends. I shook my head in dismay but began to wonder why I don’t have the same blessings as this dear friend or as that one.
“You’re not going to finish your book. You’re not like…” And then she named names. She listed bloggers who are changing the world with their words, bloggers who are writing books, who are using their influence for so much good. She shook her head and said, “Not you.” I thought about this. I thought about the other bloggers that I know and love and read every day. I felt small and insignificant.
“And you can forget about physical healing…” She began to list my sins and she began to list the good and godly people I know who’ve received full and total healing. “You aren’t like them, you know.” And I felt so unworthy.
“And how can you be the mother you want to be? For one thing, you’re way too old to have very many more kids. And look at how you parent…you get impatient, you lose your temper…You’re not like…” and then she listed mother after mother that I know. Wonderful mothers with one child or six children or nine children or more or less and mothers who are patient and soft spoken. Mothers who always know where the library books are and what day the field trip is. Mothers who feed their kids freshly baked bread and healthy, organic foods…mothers I aspire to be like. Suddenly I felt like I’d never be good enough.
Before I knew it, my whole living room was filled. Jealousy, Discontent, Self Hatred, Envy, Unworthiness, Restlessness, and Comparison filled the room with their noise. Their voices, so loud…I could barely hear the Shepherd anymore.
Poor Me and Selfishness folded their arms and smiled at Discouragement. The three of them had accomplished their goal. I was a mess.
I kind of just curled up into a ball in the middle of the floor and let these bad friends assault me with their words. I took them in and I let Discouragement win. She is so relentless. So stubborn. So loud.
And then I did hear the Shepherd. “Judge Not.” He said.
“Really, ” I replied. “Really? You’re exhorting me now when I’m a mess? A puddle of me on the floor? I need grace right now.”
“Judge not.” He said again. Firm but serene. Like He is…the Eye of a storm.
And then I could hear myself correcting daughters in this house and what they always say is, “But she…” wanting to point the finger at another sister. They always do that, always want to blame another sister.
And I always say, “You need to be looking at yourself, not at your sister.”
And then the Shepherd said that to me, “You need to be looking at yourself, not at your sister.”
Because how true. Looking at my sisters in Him, I am measuring my successes and failures against theirs and how can I know what work took place in their hearts and lives to get them to that point? How can I know what fires they’ve walked through? How can I judge my life against someone else’s?
I can’t, really. And, I shouldn’t.
I picked myself up off of the floor and started kicking these awful friends out. I told Selfishness that Love is not self serving and she slunk guiltily out the door. I told Poor Me that I am blessed and loved by the King of Glory and she rolled her eyes and flounced out dramatically. I told Jealousy that the King is enthralled by my beauty and she turned from me, walked away. I told Envy how blessed I am and that Love gives and doesn’t take. She nodded and departed, knowing I was right. I told Unworthiness to go, go, go because Jesus Himself suffered and died that I might be free. That I am made in His image and I swear she went up in flames right then and there. I told Restlessness that I am content in my circumstances and she waved good bye. I told Comparison that I am created in His own image and how could that be any better? She conceded my point, got her things and off she went.
And then it was time to have a talk with Discouragement. I realized then that I was not alone, that Obedience and Faith had joined me while I was sending off all of the others. That their friend Hope has arrived as well. We four stand with arms linked and we said to Discouragement that she must go and stay gone…because we are in this together.
I looked at my own life again.
I can do this.
I can be a missions supporter. I can help Peter and the Good Samaritan orphans and the good ladies. I will not grow weary in doing good.
I can be a writer. I will finish my book. I will blog every day and if the only people who ever read it are my mom and my mother in law and my sister and me…that’s okay too. He has asked me to write…write, I will.
I can be healed. He is in the business of miracles and I am qualified for one because He loves me.
I can be the mother I want to be because this is the job I was created for. And maybe it won’t look like I dreamed it would back when I first began to long for a large family, but I will do the work God has given me. I will do my best. I won’t measure myself against others.
I won’t judge. I won’t even judge me.