Anyone younger than me probably doesn’t recognize that title…because I know I was just a wee baby when Flip Wilson made that line popular (hehe)…..
For the last three Wednesday nights at Inside/Out, our weekly gathering of teenagers at Rock Springs Church, we’ve been studying the idea of judgment. “Judgment Call” The first two weeks were focused on judging others as worse or better than ourselves based on “_________________” (fill in the blank with your own criteria)…learning how to withhold judgment and instead to feed encouraging words into a person, whether they are like us or are not. We looked at the reasons that we make some type of judgment call, good or bad, toward other people; finding out why we assume someone will “make it” in this world or “amount to something someday” based on their present looks, behaviors, beliefs, intelligence, etc. It’s a dangerous road to traverse, yet we all do it. Teenagers do it. Adults do it. And sadly, even younger children do it…sometimes learned behavior from those around them and sometimes simply because of our sinful nature into which we are born.
This last Wednesday night we narrowed it down and focused on judging ourselves. That’s a whole new ball of yarn. I lead the high school girls group, and during our discussion, after a few of the questions, several said to me, “Man, it’s getting deep tonight!” Why? Why would looking at the idea of judging ourselves seem so much a deeper subject than judging others?
It was getting deep because we are hard on ourselves. Yes, we’re hard on others, but we’re especially hard on ourselves. We bounce back and forth between feeling like we don’t measure up to others’ expectations and not measuring up to our own expectations. It stinks. Because wherever we go, there we are. We can’t get away from ourselves, nor our own self-talk. We are very judgmental and condemning of ourselves in our thought life, especially.
“I’m so clumsy.”
“I hate that I’m not more like my mom.”
“I can’t believe how disorganized I am.”
“I knew I wouldn’t pass that test.”
“I’m just a big fat idiot.”
“I’m so stupid.”
That, and MANY MORE self-talk statements go through our minds on a minute-by-minute basis. We can’t get away from it because we are always with us. You are always with you. I am always with me. I will always remind myself of what I don’t like about myself; about what I should change about myself; about how I should be/act/talk/sing/draw/write/etc. better. It’s vicious and cruel, to be honest.
But then what happens? We assume God feels that same way about us. “You’re so clumsy.” “I hate that you’re not more like your mom.” “I can’t believe how disorganized you are.” “I knew you wouldn’t pass that test.” “You’re just a big fat idiot.” “You’re so stupid.”
God DOES NOT think those things. Yes, He is disappointed with and sad about us when we stray away…when we don’t live up to our potential…when we forget our true purpose and wander through our lives aimlessly…when we forget that we belong to him and he loves us beyond measure.
But even when we fail, God is still for us. When we are disobedient, unloving, impatient, disorganized, clumsy, short-tempered, lazy, materialistic, mean, annoying, selfish, complaining, dumb, hurtful…God is still for us. I may not be for me, but God is. And He always will be.
Two of the girls…sisters…in our group Wednesday night were talking about when the younger sister calls the older sister with a predicament and says, “Please help…” that she (older sister) will let out a disgusted puff of breath into the phone, as if to say “not again,” or a facetious “wow, what a surprise!” and hang up. Funny as that may be (and yes they were laughing about it), she also admitted that that’s how she thinks God may be with her. And don’t we all? That we’ve done that one thing one more time, and God lets out a disgusted puff of breath and says “I think I’m gonna have a heart attack and die from that surprise!” (thank you to Iago from Aladdin)…and virtually hangs up on us?
Another girl said that she imagines God following her around in her life, “pulling his hair out,” as her mother does when reacting to her behavior. Again, maybe that’s how you see God…pulling his hair out (“Does God have hair?” that same girl asked.)
As earthly earth-people, we are limited in our patience and our tolerance and our kindness and our love toward others, and most especially toward ourselves. But God has unlimited patience, tolerance, kindness and love. He doesn’t view us through the lens of frustration, anger and fed-up-ness.
He wants us to believe the best about others and ourselves, just like He does. Not easy, but so definitely worth it.
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you?” (Romans 2:4 NLT)
“God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant.” (Romans 5:20 NLT)
“When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down.” (Romans 5:21 MES)