May 27, 2012

self judgement

"You think I am wasting money."
"You think it's silly."
"You say you like it, but I don't think you really do."
"You think I'm stupid."
"You think I'm a bad mom."
"You hate my cooking."
"You think I just sit around all day."
"You hate me."

Have you ever said any of these sentences to your husband? I have. I do. Weekly. In fact, these are a sampling of things I actually say to my husband on a regular basis. He usually responds with, "oh, do I?" Wise man.

A friend recently asked if I felt judged by other moms. I had a real-live epiphany. I answered, "Yes, I do. All the time. But I don't think they are really judging me. That much. I think I feel so overwhelmingly judged because I project my self-judgment onto everyone else." Did you get that? Self judgement. For any nasty thing you can think - or say - about me, I've already come up with 3 worse things.

I've said these things long enough that I sometimes believe them. Maybe more often than sometimes.

And you know what thinking/saying/believing these things does to my self-esteem? What it does to my marriage? What it does for my relationship with Jesus? When you project your self-judgment on others, you can't no matter how hard you try, see yourself how they see you.

Am I the only one that does this?

How it starts:

Some people have all the confidence in the world. But I wonder if they really do. Often times I try to act really confident. But it's an act. I'm not really good at acting, either. I tried once. I took an acting class at the community college. They actually gave me a small role in a children's play. I was in 2 scenes. Opening night I'm in costume, ready to. I walk onstage and deliver my lines. I exit stage left at the appropriate time. I can do this! The second scene I was in, I walk out on the center stage and deliver my line. Only, it wan't the right line. It was the same line I walked on stage with in the prior scene. Oops. I was not given any more roles after that.

I laugh about it now - I mean, it was really funny seeing the other actors scramble to cover for me - who stood there like a deer in headlights not knowing what to do next. I laugh about it, but along with the laughter comes this little reminder. "You can't act. You screwed up. You can't do it. " This is not self judgement. These are lies from the devil. They are where self-judgement comes from. And every time I screw up (read: this happens often), the devil throws these things back in my face. Remember when I stood in front of the entire college to make an announcement and I screwed it up? I doubt anyone in the world remembers - it was 5 years ago. But the devil remembers. And he won't let me forget.

But, oh, how I long to forget.

How we feed our self-judgement:

It's so easy for me to start the with, "Now, I'm not necessarily a bad-looking person, but I'm by no means beautiful." These words roll off my tongue without a second thought. I get compliments on my blue eyes, or my trim figure, or on my fancy hair styles (read: hair not in a ponytail). I usually scoff at the compliment giver (because clearly you must have the taste of a 4th grader to think I am fashionable in any way) and say very sarcastically, "Um, thanks, but ______." Fill in the blank. My hair is thin, my nails are broken, I have flour on my face from making cookies, I've lost too much weight, I need make-up... on and on. I can, at any given time, come up with about 20 things that make the compliment null and void.

When is the last time we as women took the compliment and instead of brushing it off, stored it away as a treasure. We don't need to become conceded or cocky about our looks, but it's high time we learn to say, "Thank you!" No sarcasm, no amendments, no buts. Some people can do this, and I admire it. But, I want to stress that it's not our looks that are important. If we run into each other at the supermarket will you be thinking, "Wow, she really should have put on some mascara today?" Probably not. Maybe, but probably not.  This isn't a fish for compliments, because it's not about us. It's about reflecting Jesus and learning to see others - and ourselves - as He sees us.

How to end our self-judgement:

I am so beautiful. Really. I have very blue eyes. Most women would kill to be my size. And the outside is just the beginning. I am quick to give. If I have something that someone else needs, it feels wrong for me to keep it. I always try to see the good in people, which often requires empathy for people who the world is not always empathetic to. I'm a good listener. I love to help, comfort, and support people in need. I have a burden to help anyone God has me cross paths with.

Jesus made me different than everyone else for a specific purpose. He loves me. He made me to grow and learn and bloom. When we're tempted to say, "Well, this is just how I am." or, "This is how God made me, I can't help it." We need to remember that he didn't make us to be stagnant waters. We are to be a stream flowing along fields of growth, pouring into rivers of peace, winding our way to oceans of love. If we see something in ourselves we don't like, that doesn't reflect Jesus, such as self-judgement, we must learn to give these things to Jesus so HE can refine us. We are not overcomers. What can we overcome? Let me tell you as someone who has tried to overcome for years - it ain't gonna happen. Jesus is the overcomer. He will take the impurities in us and make them clean if only we will ask Him and let Him and believe Him.

Because without Jesus, what are we? I can't answer that for everyone, but for me, I waste money, I'm stupid, I'm a bad mom/cook/houekeeper/etc. Without Jesus I'm a vine that's been cut from a branch. I don't want to be cut away. I want to be one of those vines that are so entwined with the branch that you can't find the beginning or the end. I want to be a spark that leads to a blaze.

What this looks like practically:

  • Before you put on your make up, look in the mirror for a long while. Then close your eyes and imagine the hands of Jesus cup your face and kiss your forehead. He thinks you're beautiful. 
  • When reminded of past mistakes, thank God for being a God of forgiveness and ask Him to take away the guilt or embarrassment.
  • Stop projecting your judgement on others. Instead of "You think I'm a bad mom." Try, "I'm feeling bad as a mom, will you pray for me?"
  • Say, "Thank you" without any buts. 
  • Make a list of 5 things you like about yourself. 5 Things you are really good at. 5 Things you have done well. 5 Ways Jesus made you special. Add to these lists as you think of more. Don't forget them. 
  • If you are feeling judged by someone, ask yourself if you think they are truly judging you, or if you are projecting. It helps to know where the feeling are coming from. Are you comparing yourself to someone else? Remember that we all struggle in some areas. Don't compare yourself to others. It does no good.
  • As often as needed, give these feelings to God. Don't take them back. Ask Him to take them away. You'll probably feel guilt, embarrassment, or judgement for a while, simply because we've trained ourselves to think this way. The more we trust, the quicker we will be freed of these feelings. 
  • Remember that Jesus made you special and He loves you very much (10 points if you get the Veggie Tales reference). Get your Bible out and look up verses, promises, psalms. Pray that God will lead your reading. 
You are beautiful. Look at you! God made you so unique and special. God gave you a heart to love and laugh and learn - a heart like no other. Of all the people who have ever lived, you have a special place in this world. You are not an accident. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. You were knit together, and before even one person laid eyes on you - you were loved by Jesus first. Wow, when I see you how Jesus sees you, I can't help but love you.


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