I had an epiphany yesterday. It all started as I sat down determined not to fall into my same routine. I began to journal my thoughts, giving voice to my frustrations between what my life is like and what I wish it were like. As I wrote, a question started forming in my mind, what if the reason I/we struggle with _____(fill in the blank) is not so that I/we can get better or be better? What if the goal isn’t health, wealth, fame, or…? What if I’m looking at this the wrong way? What if it’s not about me? It begs back to the question of why God allows suffering.
I came up with four words in response: community, compassion, humanity, and love.
Two scriptures played together in my mind.
Refuse to be a critic full of bias toward others, and judgment will not be passed on you. For you’ll be judged by the same standard that you’ve used to judge others. The measurement you use on them will be used on you. Why would you focus on the flaw in someone else’s life and yet fail to notice the glaring flaws of your own? How could you say to your friend, ‘Let me show you where you’re wrong,’ when you’re guilty of even more?Matthew 7:1-4 (TPT)
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.Philippians 2:3-4 (NLT)
When I judge myself for being overweight it reminds me of the times I have judged my parents, my children, my husband and anyone else who has been overweight. I have been critical of their choices and their inability to lose weight. Of course I wasn’t overweight at the time I developed these judgments. I watched my mom and dad try diet after diet as I was growing up. I had no point of reference in my own life, only a healthy fear of becoming like them. As a result, I judge myself and I hate what I see.
So, what if the challenge is not grounded in the goal of losing weight or making better use of my time or becoming a published author? What if the challenge is losing my judgements? What if it is adopting forgiveness to make way to develop compassion?
God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!John 3:17 (TPT)
You are always and dearly loved by God! So robe yourself with virtues of God, since you have been divinely chosen to be holy. Be merciful as you endeavor to understand others, and be compassionate, showing kindness toward all. Be gentle and humble, unoffendable in your patience with others. Tolerate the weaknesses of those in the family of faith, forgiving one another in the same way you have been graciously forgiven by Jesus Christ. If you find fault with someone, release this same gift of forgiveness to them. For love is supreme and must flow through each of these virtues. Love becomes the mark of true maturity.Colossians 3:12-14 – (TPT)
When I stop being critical of myself and forgive myself, I invite love and peace to abide. When I stop judging and being critical of others, I invite community, compassion, humanity, and love to reside. This is a worthy goal.
How have you faired in this battle of love and compassion over judgement and condemnation?
Father, forgive me for the dark thoughts I’ve held in my heart against myself and others. Fill me with your love and compassion. Help me to extend mercy and grace to anyone struggling with unmet goals and broken dreams. May I embrace my own struggles as they keep me humble before you. None of us are without need of your saving grace.
Grace & Peace,