Finding Freedom from Judgment
I heard a Christian pastor announce that he had decided to stop worrying about what other people thought of him. He needed freedom from judgment. He chose to be honest with himself and say,
“Yeah, if they are judging me, they’re probably right. Not only that, I am actually worse than they think I am.”
My friend, Cathy, once lamented about her selfish and judgmental thoughts rearing their ugly heads in one of her college classes.
Her impatient and mean thoughts about some of the other students surprised her.
I said that’s why it’s a gift that we can keep our thoughts to ourselves. If everyone could hear what everyone else was thinking, the world would erupt in all our private wars made public.
“Fake it till you make it” makes a lot of sense in this context. This has worked for me many times.
Or has it?
Maybe my faking it is like a teenager who cleans up her trashed house after her illicit party but before her parents get home. They don’t see the breach in trust but the lie hovers in the house and does some hidden damage of its own.
Perhaps finding freedom from people’s judgments of me AND freedom from my own judgments of others is going to cost me more than a hurried house cleaning.
Is there a better approach to finding this kind of freedom?
My Ugly Underside
I was walking along with a crowd of typical American families recently — judgment alert— and noticed the many overweight people around me, their soda straws pressed between their lips and the french fries pouching on their hips.
I pulled my husband Scott aside.
“I have a really mean joke that I just thought of,” I giggled.
“What?” He grinned, warming to this rare confession of my judgmental cruelty.
I said, “imagine a T-shirt for kids that said, ‘Destined for Greatness’ only the ‘Greatness’ is crossed out and below it is scribbled, ‘Fatness.’ Ha! Get it? All of these fat American parents are raising their kids to be fat!”
He was shocked. It really isn’t funny. It is quite mean and arrogant of me. Easy for me to laugh when I’ve done the parenting and nutrition thing perfectly—NOT!
Hear My Confession
The next week we were hanging out with friends and Scott began to tell this story. Midway through, he realized he was about to confess my sin. Giving him a sideways glance, I picked up where he’d left off and finished the story in all its gory detail.
I’m not sure if any of our friends thought it was funny. But if they had any lingering doubts about my proud and wicked heart, I certainly dispelled them.
That night, I lay awake regretting the revelation of my depravity. A vulnerability hangover of sorts. BUT—was I sad about my judgmental heart or just embarrassed to be outed?
The next morning it dawned on me that I could be glad that the blackness of my heart had been laid bare. Especially to friends that, I think, love me.
No more pretending. I am free to be me. I had a taste of freedom from judgment. Yum!
What’s The Point?
- I write this for people like me who long for freedom from pretense, long to tell the truth—show the truth about themselves.
- I write for Christians imprisoned by the belief they have to present a picture-perfect, “what would Jesus do” kind of life.
- I write to encourage self-righteous or shame-filled people to find freedom by telling the truth about themselves.
- I write at my own risk of losing (or gaining) a reputation, friends, acceptance, and love.
The ugly underside that we try to hide is actually the key to finding freedom from judgment.
When we stop pretending, we can also let go of the judgments we make and the ones we fear from others.
Finding Freedom From Judgment
I have spent a lot of my adult life trying to look good—be good—when in fact I am not all that good.
Some of my sins I can keep between me and Jesus. He says He loves and forgives me unconditionally. Not every confession need be public.
However, other transgressions are painfully obvious so I’d better get honest with myself and others.
Pretending has created lots of space between me and would-be friends. I have presented myself as a whole-grain-cookie-eating, Bible-reading, clean-freaking woman.
- Why would someone want to come under my radar?
- Why should I be surprised that people think I’m better than I am?
- Do I really think my friends don’t smell my baloney from a mile away?
- Am I afraid they won’t love me when I’m not awesome?
- Will they love me because I’m not perfect?
Will you love me even though you know the truth?
Now that I am not pretending and defending my own righteousness, I can look at you without condemnation. Admitting my own mess frees me to have compassion for your struggle.
It’s true: I am judgmental, proud, and mean sometimes.
So if you are judging me now, you’re probably right.
In fact, I’m worse than you think!