I’m Worse Than You Think!

Finding Freedom from Judgment

A Christian pastor announced he had decided to stop worrying about what others thought of him. He needed freedom from judgment. He chose to be honest with himself and say,

“If people are judging me, they’re probably right. In fact, I am worse than they think I am.”

finding freedom from judgment

Recently, a friend lamented how her mind percolated with criticism of a co-worker. Her ugly, unkind thoughts surprised her.

I said, “I’m glad we can keep our thoughts to ourselves. If everyone could hear what everyone else was thinking, the world would erupt with all our private judgments made public.”

Fake it till you make it makes a lot of sense in this context. Hide my biases until I can get a handle on them. When my heart is finally pure, I will present it as authentic to the watching world. This has worked for me many times. Or has it?

The Ugly Underside

Maybe my faking it is like a partying teenager who cleans up her trashed house just before her parents get home. Because they don’t see the breach in trust, the family is not free to deal with the underlying issues. The surfaces are clean but the lie hovers in the house. What hidden damage does the pretense do?

Lines of communication break down when we spray a sanitizing scent to mask our imperfect behavior or opinions. The scary parents are appeased but we are further from each other. Perhaps finding freedom from people’s judgments of me AND freedom from my own judgments of others is going to cost more than a hurried house cleaning.

Is there a better approach to finding this kind of freedom?

Hear My Confession

I was walking along with a crowd of typical American families recently — judgment alert— and noticed the many overweight people surrounding me. They all had soda straws pressed between their lips and the french fries pouching on their hips.     

I pulled my husband Scott aside and giggled, freedom from judgement “I just thought of a really mean joke.”

“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, but the Greatness is crossed out and Fatness is scribbled below it. 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!

Honesty Hangover

The next week we were hanging out with friends and Scott began to recount this story of my judgmental attitude. Midway through, he realized he was about to confess my sin. I gave him a sideways glance and picked up where he’d left off. I was embarrassed to finish the revelation of my prejudice in its undisguised detail.

I’m not sure if any of our friends thought it was funny. But if they had any lingering doubts about my proud heart, I certainly dispelled them. Self-righteousness can stink up a room.

That night, I lay awake regretting the depths of my depravity. An honesty hangover of sorts.  But 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 love me. No more pretending. I am free to be me. It was a taste of freedom from judgment. Yum!   

freedom from judgement 

Keys to Finding Freedom and Authentic Change

  • Showing and telling the truth about myself catalyzes an authentic conversation.
  • Authentic conversations free self-righteous or shame-filled people to tell the truth to each other.
  • Telling the truth opens the door for more communication and authentic change.

Christians and others imprisoned by the belief they have to present a picture-perfect, “what would Jesus do” kind of life shut the door on authentic communication. On the other hand, authority figures and public figures who admit to their own shortcomings can embrace the ugly underside of others. It’s like a parent who never shames their errant child because they are honest about their own struggles. They can challenge each other as equals from their humble vantage points. This is key to finding freedom from judgment. 

When we all stop pretending, we can also let go of the judgments we make and the judgments we fear from others. 

Show and Tell: Taking Chances

Showing and telling our shortcomings comes with risks. The risk of hurting others. The risk of losing (or gaining) a reputation. The loss of likes, friends, acceptance, and love. Lately, we may lose even more.

But, I have spent too much of my adult life trying to look good—be good—when in fact I am not all that good. 

Some of my sins I 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. My question is:

Will you love me even though you know the truth? Can you bear with my mistakes?  

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. In fact, I’m worse than you think. And now that you have judged me, we have something to talk about!

 

other related posts from me: Making Pretend and Closer to Free

22 thoughts on “I’m Worse Than You Think!”

  1. Okay I’ll go first. I totally relate to that shadow self. Part of it is because I make such an effort to strive for excellence (most of the time) that I have an intolerance for others who aren’t at all conscientious. I’m struggling every waking hour trying to diet and exercise (and berate myself for failing at it) and then in walks somebody who eats whatever he/she wants and doesn’t give a flip about the future consequences. My mental meanie often asks, “What do they see when they look in the mirror.” And that’s not because I think I look great. Quite the opposite. I’m so busy being disgusted with myself and they seem to see themselves as eye candy. Ha!

    I’ve matured through the years so that I place a much higher value on God’s grace covering me and how it covers a MULTITUDE of sins (or character/physical flaws). I’m trying to learn the hard lesson of keeping my mouth shut. Thinking some thoughts isn’t good either, but it narrows the conversation to just Jesus and me. And that same grace is covering others as well.

    We aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to others, right? But honestly I’m relieved to hear that somebody else has those no-no thoughts.

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  2. I’m glad I am not alone in my confession–thanks, E, for commenting! So thankful that His love and grace cover a multitude of judgments : )

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  3. In this case, avoiding pretense and telling the truth means admitting that I thought your joke was kind of funny. Part of it is that the joke didn’t seem to be directed at a particular person (or so it seems from your description) but a set of lifestyle choices. Another part is that sometimes I do think mean thoughts and can appreciate the humor behind someone else’s mean thoughts. But it is definitely not the type of thought I would voice or give place to if I saw our Lord sitting next to me (which I guess He is — oops). So there you have it: I am not a kind person, I repent of it, and I ask God’s grace to help me be kinder. Thanks for peeling a layer back, Christine!

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  4. What a refreshing look on judgement, its good to know one is not alone and as they say, “honesty is the best policy,” especially with oneself.

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  5. Oh my goodness (or NOT my goodness!), this is so much the struggle of my heart! Taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ. In trying to do this, I realize more and more what a vicious battle this is: with my self-righteousness, with my arrogance, with my impatience, with my nemesis- pride. “O, wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!”
    While we continue to lay everything at the feet of Jesus, oh, it’s good to know that we don’t have a high priest that cannot sympathize with our struggles, “but was in all things tempted as we are, and yet was without sin.” Praise God who has already won the victory! This is what I hang on to when I fail (daily). HE has already conquered this sin in my life. HE is most worthy of praise!
    Thank you for your honesty, Christine. Christians aren’t perfect. We’re redeemed.

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  6. Refreshing to read about a REAL Christian, one who gets the fact that WE CANNOT be good enough. I have lived almost 60 years, more than 40 as a “believer” and all I have heard is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. I finally heard the still small Voice say “exactly!” That’s why I redeemed you. I no longer have to live with the toxic shame of being a white, male, overweight, divorced person. Now I can really call myself “Child of God” No man can take that from me EVER. So, let us rejoice in being imperfect, messy, real CHILDREN. Our Father loves us in any case.

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  7. Everyone else beat me to it….Yes to all of the previous comments. As much as we all strive for perfection in Christ, we need to remember that while we are confined to these corruptible bodies, we are not yet without sin, and it’s important that we are gentle with ourselves when we slip up. Forgiveness of self is just as important as forgiveness of others in my opinion…..and if we hurt someone, we should have the humility to own it. A sincere apology can do wonders. This blog post and resulting discussion brings to my mind the Epistle of James: taming the tongue. It’s something we all have to work on, and it’s a lifelong process. But I will echo the others and say thank you for your honesty and openness.

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  8. Thank you Christine for your honest transparency. It gives me hope that if you’re still learning & growing in Jesus, then there’s hope for me too.
    Just a couple weeks ago I was all sorts of hateful about a person, after the conviction and apologies to the poor friend that heard a bit of it I was so frustrated with myself. Will I ever learn, surely I am old enough to know better by now, etc
    So, again thank you for sharing your bit of growth!

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    • Thanks, Jennifer. How amazing that our lack of goodness is the thing that leads us to Jesus who alone can make us ‘good’!

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  9. I think it’s easier for me to get rid of the obvious sins in my life (or hide them really well) than to discard the jealousy, greed, selfishness, backbiting or gossip…. Sin is sin and I’ve been guilty, but am now forgiven (until the next time, and make no mistake, there WILL be another time…) 🙂

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  10. Thanks, Christine, for your transparency! Your words spoke truth in my heart, and probably many people’s hearts! It’s so true that Christians, although redeemed, are still imperfect. Our life on this earth is a journey without ever reaching the ultimate destination/goal of becoming Christ-like. In this process we will experience failures and successes, but through it all God is molding us more in his image:) Miss you, sweetie!

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  11. Suppressing or even voicing our sinful thoughts still indicates the evilness of our fallen natures. Our tendencies to clean up self is the prison we assign ourselves to. True freedom is resting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and through faith in Him we know He is the only One who washes away our sins. Your openness to your sinfulness puts in proper perspective that we are no better than the next. Thanks for your honesty! God bless you and your family!

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  12. I wrote this some years ago and I think it pertains to this subject even more now.

    Consider that God created billions and billions and billions… of stars. They are pumping out enormous energy into the voids of the universe. Only a parcel of these rays touch base on earth to support life as we know it.

    God is not concerned about using His resources efficiently and we don’t judge Him as a poor manager. Yet, we can be overly harsh about failure and neglect in others and ourselves, and discount virtuous moments as transitory.

    I believe that when Jesus Christ returns for the Last Judgement, He will come back as an usher. He will take up a second collection for sinners and squeeze as many of them into heaven as it will hold.

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