Lately, I have been wrestling with the voice of self-righteous judgment that lives in my head. This voice, which once served me as a great protector, has become a horrible foe that builds barriers between me and the people around me, as well as between me and God.
It is true that there was a time in my life, when I was living in an unhealthy way, that my self-righteous judgment of others protected me from being sucked into the deceitful behaviors of people that would eventually hurt me. Through my judgment of the other unhealthy people with whom I was spending most of my time, I was able to keep enough distance between us to avoid the pain that always comes with unhealthy relationships. However, as my life has changed through recovery from my addictions, therapy to overcome the harms of my past, and continued daily connection with God, I am no longer served well by self-righteous judgment.
In listening to my favorite Christian preacher, Andy Stanley, I have learned so many things about how to live a healthier and more fulfilling life through my relationship with God. Awhile back, he delivered a message about how we look at ourselves and how we look at others and how that affects our relationships. He pointed out that when we are recognizing the craziness in someone else’s life, we are most likely disturbed by it because it reminds us somewhat of our own struggles. He was not suggesting that we are adulterers because we are disturbed by someone who is, he was just suggesting that we are able to see these behaviors for what they are because we have done similar things ourselves. In fact, one of my favorite Andy Stanley quotes was one he delivered in that message: “I know a mess when I see one, because I am one.” I remember chuckling to myself when I first heard him say that, and then cursing when it popped into my mind the very next time I laid a voiceless judgment on someone who wasn’t behaving the way I thought they should be behaving. “I know a mess when I see one because I am one.” OUCH!
As difficult as it is to recognize my own messiness, it has been one of the greatest gifts I have been able to give myself. With the help of others who I trust and respect, I have spent many hours reviewing my defects of character, the harmful behaviors I have acted upon in my past, and the things I continue to do today that stunt my spiritual and emotional growth. This process has helped me to gain much awareness of who I really am; and it has helped me to see other people in an entirely new – and more compassionate – way.
Unfortunately, I’m not always spiritually fit. I’m not always “on my game.” I’m not always able to recall the message of Love that I start each day with when I spend time with God in the morning. And, that is why I must work towards healing every single day of my life. To rest on my laurels or believe that I no longer need any help from God or my fellows is – for me – to commit a slow spiritual suicide. Instead, when I continue to go to God each morning, listen to the experience of others who are also recovering from addiction, ask for help when I am confused, offer help and service to others who share my addiction, and seek out messages from great spiritual leaders like Andy Stanley (and so many more), I am brought back to the solution over and over again. That repetition is what keeps me from believing the self-righteous mumbo-jumbo that tries so desperately to win me over, to ruin my relationships, and to drive me back to a place of loneliness and eventual self-destruction.
Today, I am so very grateful for the community of people who want to live better lives – those who want to recover from addiction, those who want to find a Higher Power that will help them grow spiritually, and those who are doing their best to love and accept others without judgment. Through these people, God keeps me grounded in His message of Love. It is because of that foundation that I am reminded, “I know a mess when I see one, because I am one,” and can react to the unhealthy behavior of someone else with compassion rather than judgment.
I am very blessed to be a part of your community of love for each other. May God bless your day. No judgments, much compassion.
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