The Fear of Judgment

He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.’
— Luke 11:1-4

Confession: I'm afraid of being judged.

I want people to think the best of me. I want people think that I am smart, funny, and wise. When they judge otherwise, I get angry. I want to scourge them with an argument or crucify them with my wit.

My anger quickly squeezes out compassion.

And then I haul myself before a most unmerciful magistrate: myself. There really isn't even a trial. After a bout of unhealthy and cruel self-deprecation, I condemn myself to a sentence of worthlessness and shame with no chance of parole.

Perhaps this was the trial Jesus was talking about when he said "And do not bring us to the time of trial." (Luke 11:4)

The trial I fear is not a tribunal before God--after all, God will "judge the world with righteousness / and the people with equity." (Psalm 98:9) God does not seek to punish me. God seeks a relationship with my true self. (Of course, I imagine that surrendering my false self will feel like punishment.)

The trial I really fear is a tribunal I'll face before myself, because I am too often incapable of mercy.

Maybe, just maybe, if I can surrender my fear of being judged; only then will I stop judging others.

Center yourself by breathing naturally and free. Your breaths are neither slow nor deep; neither quick nor shallow. Allow you mind and body to become calm and still.

Repeat the following words for several moments. Let them flow naturally with your breathing. Lose yourself in the Lord's mercy. If any stray thoughts compete for your attention, gently return your attention to the words.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Close the meditation with a simple Amen.