Living in the Fear of Judgment…


imagesCA4LXE8FThe annual Thanksgiving Day family party was a big success with one exception…yours truly!  You see there is such a thing as “too much” fun and in my case “too much” Fireball!  As one might expect, too many drinks leads to some rather bizarre behavior, made worse by the advent of Vine videos which, thanks to the marvels of modern technology, allows you to see yourself out of your mind while in your right mind…  SMH oh well!  Those sketchy memories aside (thankfully) and after a couple of days of self-flagellation, I realized that my errors in judgment weren’t my issue as much as my perceptions of other people’s judgment (or perceived judgment) of me…  What must they think of me???

Good question, wouldn’t you agree?  I mean how much time do we really spend worrying about what other people might be thinking about us?  And maybe not without good reason…  We live in a society that thrives (or feeds if you will) on judgment.  We judge people for being overweight; for not being as attractive as someone in the media convinced us they should be; for not having enough money (or having too much money); for the color of their skin; for their ethnicity and on it goes into virtual judgment oblivion.  There are social expectations, relationship expectations, behavior expectations, moral expectations and religious expectations.  And the result?  A world of people controlled and terrified of other people’s judgment.  And maybe worst of all, a multitude of people paralyzed with the thoughts of Almighty God‘s judgment!

So maybe we ought to try to make some sense out of all that judgment.  First, I think if you have lived long enough, you realize that all people have had their moments in the mud and if they haven’t yet, just wait a little bit.  Next, if you’ve lived long enough (again) you have been down the slippery path enough to understand that people, being people, often get tripped up in life and even more often when they least expect it (There but for the grace of God, go I).  And finally, here’s maybe the most scary part of it all.  All of us have a mind that we live inside and as such are completely aware of where our thoughts go at all times.  Oh we may have a fantastic public persona, but we also know the stuff that goes through our private minds.  Yet somehow we try for all we are worth to keep that private part private because after all, God forbid what would happen to us if people knew who we really are!

So, here’s a thought for your noggin – you know who you are inside (which I’m guessing doesn’t really vary that much for most of us) and for that reason alone might want to decide to give up on judgment!  (LOL)  Judgment is a losers game which, while appearing to make you feel a bit superior for a moment, only ends with your own feeble attempt to justify your own insanity by pointing out the insanity of others.  Saying someone is ugly never made you prettier.  Calling someone an idiot won’t add to your IQ.  And, no matter how thin you might get, it will never make up for the insecurity you feel inside.  You see, judgment only serves to turn us into critical Pharisees, who while interacting personally with the Messiah, could not conceive that he was who he said he was because their eyes were blinded to “true love” and instead only saw the flaws they trained themselves to see.  And while I’m at it, God Himself who saw the evil results of judgment sent us a Savior to “once and for all ever set us free” from the potential to be judged!  So, of course there is a better way to live…

The best way to live is devoid of all judgment.  (Maybe give it up for lent -ha)  Just stop doing it.  Does that mean you must excuse bad behavior?  Of course not!  Instead acknowledge the “bad behavior” but decide to love the person behind it.  And, are you deciding to love them based upon your ranking scale concerning the badness of their behavior?  No, unless you are okay with the same ranking scale!  (Haha – side-note, somehow in your own mind your bad won’t be as bad as “their” bad!)  Just let people be people.  Let them bloody their own noses.  They don’t need your lecture, they need your love because their nose is already bleeding!  Why not be that person they know never judges them and in so doing, give them a little slice of heaven while they are still on earth.  Imagine that – heaven is a place people go to because they chose to believe in God’s Savior rather than choosing to believe in the ever sliding scale of good behavior!

You and I don’t ever have to be afraid of people’s judgment!  Oh sure they are going to judge us still, but at the end of the day, it’s what God thinks that matters and He already forgave us for every whacky thing we ever got caught up in!  Yes folks, it’s that big!

So is this about a man feeling bad for being “that guy” at his own house party?  Nah, don’t you believe it!  This is about freedom from the fear and bondage of judgment that runs the whole world.  Shoot, I ain’t scurrrred!  How about you?

Just some good “judgment free” thoughts…

Waiting on Sunshine…


20071104182814_waiting-borderI imagine that all of us like to feel good.  All of us want to experience happiness, right?  Yet feeling good and being happy appear to be somewhat elusive and mysterious, don’t they?  So that got me thinking (a dangerous proposition I know).  How many Facebook memes give advice on being happy?  Happiness is ___________ (you fill in the blank)!  Happiness is reported as being a sunny day; a loving family; your dog; the beach; solitude; a son, a daughter, a Mom etc., etc.  With so many ideas; so many choices; so much disparity out there, maybe it’s time to look at things from another angle.

It seems that the general consensus is that feeling good or being happy are emotional states that just sort of happen.  You know what I mean.  “I feel good today!”  “I’m feeling really happy right now!”  Yet those apparently inexplicable mental states are more a rarity than the norm for most folks.  According to my highly unscientific best guess estimates, people seem to be happy about 20% of the time and seeking happiness the other 80% of the time.  Maybe that’s the old 80/20 rule again?  Is it plausible to consider that maybe life is supposed to be like that?  Were humans created to enjoy a few good times and spend the rest of their lives pursuing good times?  Is it really about the chase or the wait; the long, long wait?

Cliche’ man says, “I think we’ve got the cart before the horse!”  Feelings are really emotional states.  Emotions come and go, have you noticed?  While feelings are wonderful, they aren’t any guarantee for truth (said a great man once).  Our emotions are really barometers; internal sensors that react precisely to what we are thinking or were thinking or think about the most.  Feelings aren’t reality checks, they are thought checks!  Your emotions reflect back to you your mental climate.  If your mental weather is stormy, you feel unsettled.  If your mental climate is sunny and calm, you feel pleasant and peaceful.  Now get this!!!  You don’t feel first, you think first!  Okay, I will say that again with volume.  YOU DON’T FEEL FIRST, YOU THINK FIRST!!!  The real trouble is that most of us aren’t really very clear about what we are thinking about.  Thoughts sort of hit our minds and we go with them.  And worse, we have learned to accept our often fleeting thoughts as truth!  So, here’s a shocker, just because you thought something doesn’t make it true!  Your current thoughts or prevailing feelings may have absolutely nothing to do with reality, but since you are an insider looking out, you beg to differ.  For example, suddenly (it appears) you feel discouraged.  The feeling is very real.  No future, no hope, no sunny days ahead!  And, in your discouraged state you long for happier times; times when you felt hopeful and encouraged about life and its infinite possibilities.  Ya feel me?  Okay now slow your roll for a minute here…  What thoughts preceded those discouraged feelings?  What little snippets of mental picturing led you and of course your feelings to that conclusion?  Trust me, something did.  The problem is that you were woefully unaware of those thoughts and where they led you.  Now all you’ve got left is discouragement.  Do you see what I’m getting at here?

Waiting on good feelings or waiting on happiness is like waiting to eat.  The sooner you decide to put the food in your mouth, the better you are going to feel.  Can you imagine having a banquet at your disposal; starving and yet still waiting for the right time to eat it?  Waiting until the sun comes out…  Waiting until the conditions are perfect for eating…  Waiting until you get your new job; new boyfriend; new car…  Seems the simple solution is to decide right now to eat!  So you say, cleverly, “Yes but what if there isn’t any food to eat?”  Well, if I were a betting man, I’d say that once you have decided to eat in your hungry state, you are going to find some food!  However, happiness and good feelings (despite my thrilling analogy) are always available to you if you will decide to take them!  But, you don’t decide to take them.  You know why, because you are waiting for them (your feelings) to decide for you.  And in that perpetual ruse, you will be waiting a very long time (80/20)…

Our great God Who created all there is, wants you to be happy and feel good always!  I know that sounds fanciful to you, but it’s true.  Sure there’s a time to cry, a time to mourn, a time to overcome, but God wants you to be happy!  And good feelings follow good thoughts, so you got to learn how  to control your thoughts.  You’ve got to challenge that malarkey that enters your brain!  (Remember just because you thought it doesn’t make it true!)  The good book says, “leading captive every thought to the obedience of Christ (like he controlled his thoughts).”  God wouldn’t have asked us to control our thoughts if it wasn’t possible, right?  The endgame of controlled thought isn’t bondage it’s happiness and joy and love and peace.  (Man, I felt good just saying that!)  You learn to rein in that thinker and stop letting it get dragged down the path!  The whole world is afraid of disease, but God heals!  (But what about the C-word?  Yeah that too!)  The economy is in dire condition, but God promises prosperity!  Good feelings flow forth from good thoughts like water flows over Niagara Falls!

So, stop waiting for the sun to come out in your life.  Stop waiting for the stars to align.  Stop waiting for anything to happen.  Decide right now, today, at this moment, that you ARE happy.  Decide that you feel good, even if you are a little under the weather!  Decide you are going to live the life God promised you instead of the one the world keeps telling you is available.

Try walking on sunshine instead…

Just some good thoughts…(and feelings :-))

Damned If You Do…?


no-condemnationMy grandsons were at the house this past weekend enjoying a good romp and mess making opportunity (goes with the territory!).  Two year-old Tristan, formerly playing quietly with the iPad on the couch, suddenly launched it onto to the floor!  So I said, “Hey Tristan, you can’t throw the iPad on the floor!  You are going to break it!”  And he exclaimed, before I was even finished chastising him, “I sorry Pampa!”  But I wasn’t finished yet as I added, “You can’t do that Tristan because you are going to break it and it costs a lot of money!”  Again he offered, before I was even done yet again, “I sorry Pampa, okay?”

You see, young Tristan didn’t want the condemnation that goes with feeling like he had done something wrong.  And in the wisdom of a two-year, figured the best response was to be sorry as quickly as possible to end that “feeling bad” thing.  What a lesson for us infinitely wiser adults, huh?  Feeling bad about ourselves; condemning ourselves; thinking bad things about ourselves is one of the greatest life-suckers that confronts the human race!  The best prescription for defeating a man (or a woman or a child) is to talk them into beating their own selves up from the inside out.  (Similar to getting a person addicted to drugs then watching them systematically destroy themselves!)  So what is behind that insidious tendency?  Where does it come from?  Is it something that God employs to make us better people?  Is there an actual benefit to it that we may not be aware of yet?

To understand condemnation you have to start with its definition.  To condemn means to pass judgment against.  It means to find guilt and its associated punishment (i.e. condemned to death).  It comes from a word that means “con – implies intense feeling” and “damn-to provide adverse judgment.”  So condemning yourself means that you are judging yourself and finding yourself coming up short.  And worse, your judgment of yourself anticipates punishment (fear) which works most effectively to strengthen the cycle.  So here’s a fun thought to ponder.  Have you ever met anyone that did better; performed better; or made better choices following an unhealthy dose of being made to feel bad?  My guess is probably not, right?  When you are in a constant state of evaluating your own behavior, or measuring yourself against other people, or finding the wrong in everything you say and do, you are living in a state of defeat.  You are actually made weaker by that process, not stronger.  And weak people tend to do worse and worse, thus the cycle continues…

So, here’s another fun thought?  Do you suppose that it is God that is condemning you?  Is it plausible to you that God, who is infinite in wisdom and love chooses to take the “beat them into submission” approach to influence your choices?  I would say emphatically, hell no! – but that would be swearing (:-))…  God, the really smart one, knew that you and I would be susceptible to feeling bad when our thoughts or behaviors came up short and in so knowing, devised a master plan that would forever free mankind from that vicious cycle.  His master plan was (and is) to have a son with no sin in his blood that would have an opportunity to live his life perfectly, without ever sinning if he so chose to do so.  And then, if His son was successful, His son could function as the savior of mankind, forever freeing man from the consequences of sin by becoming the perfect substitute and sacrifice for man.  That perfect plan happened, my friends, and by accepting Jesus Christ as our savior from sin, you and I will never come into condemnation again (as far as God is concerned).  Read the Bible – I didn’t make this stuff up.  haha

So where then does that condemnation come from?  It comes from the enemy of mankind, the adversary, who uses what you don’t know against you.  For example, if your church teaches you that you have to obey this command or follow that law or do these behaviors, for God to love, bless and protect you, then that church has unknowingly sold you a lie.  Easssy now, stay with me here.  If Jesus Christ paid the full price for all of your sins, which ones are left for you to pay for?  Seems to me that we have already been made perfect in God’s eyes, so why all the gut wrenching and fear?  The gut wrenching and fear come from that same enemy…  It’s a trick man!  God made it so that it is no longer all about you (what you do, did or don’t do) and instead made all about Him; what He did for you!  And you wonder why I love Him so… 🙂  Just because someone claims to speak for God or is sincere doesn’t guarantee you anything at all.  Used car salesmen are often very sincere…

So here is the startling reality!  God doesn’t want you to live under all that bondage.  God doesn’t want you cataloging what’s wrong with you all the time.  God doesn’t want you to even judge yourself (see Apostle Paul in Bible).  Get off your own back and get away from those shackles that bind you.  You will never, ever, ever be able to truly and freely believe God to get the things you need in life until you completely and thoroughly kill off all that insidious condemnation!

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.  Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.  And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him… I John 3:20-22

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?  No!  God doesn’t damn anybody and neither do I…  Live in the freedom that God prepared for you and stop listening to that ol’ bird that’s always on your back!  It aint about you man…it’s about God!

Just some good thoughts…