I'm worried, anxious, and aggravated.
I'm worried about an impending deadline. I should be further along in reviewing the manuscript than I am. I'm anxious because every day that passes, I'm no closer to the finish line. I'm beginning to panic. And I'm aggravated because I'm not managing my anxiety better.
As I was meditating this morning on the story of Martha and Mary from the Gospel of Luke, I felt as he was talking to me: "You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing."
"No shit," I replied. "Tell me something I don't know, such as, what is that one thing I need?!?!"
He responded with silence.
I used the silence to look at where I was heading. My worry turned to anxiety. My anxiety turned to aggravation. And my aggravation was making me short tempered. Every thought that entered my mind inspired anger, defensiveness, and belligerence.
At the root of my worry was a fear of failure. The truth is, I define myself my accomplishments. And when I fail, I am a harsh judge: I'm guilty of being worthless and incompetent. The sentence is even harsher: I will judge others as even more worthless and incompetent than myself.
That's the curse of judgment: when we judge ourselves harshly, we will judge others even more harshly.
Maybe that's the one thing Jesus was trying to teach me: I need to surrender my desire to judge myself. All my judgments are based on assumptions that are incomplete; they reveal an arrogance that blinds me to the fact that I lack the wisdom to judge anything.
Center yourself by breathing in God's love and breathing out God's mercy until you fell calm, still, and free.
Read the following Scripture verse several times.
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court. I don’t even judge myself. I don’t feel I have done anything wrong. But that doesn’t mean I’m not guilty. The Lord judges me. So don’t judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord returns. He will bring to light what is hidden in the dark. He will show the real reasons why people do what they do. At that time each person will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5)
Allow your eye to settle on a particular sentence or even a word, trusting that the Holy Spirit is guiding you. What meaning do those words (or word) hold for you? How do they move you or challenge you? Do they reveal areas where you need to grow? Do they shed light on aspect of your personality that you have suppressed and kept in the dark?
Bring this before Jesus in conversation. Imagine the kindness in his eyes and the gentleness of his presence. Share your insights, questions, and doubts with him. Watch as he accepts them with compassion. How does he respond to you? How do you respond to him?
Look forward to tomorrow. How will this conversation with the Lord make a difference in the way you act toward God, others, and yourself tomorrow?
Close with this prayer or one of your own: Lord, may I learn not judge myself and others, but rather, trust in your mercy. Amen.