This Bible Saturation plan that I am going through during my sabbatical is really kicking up some deep things within me. James 2:13, the title of this blog, is such a simple phrase yet I struggled for so many years under judgment.
Growing up in a home where my critical stepfather constantly judged me I came to believe that I would never be an effective individual. Eventually I didn’t need him to criticize me because I started to agree with the judgments I had internalized as a child. “I am worthless, a failure, a loser, and good for nothing.” There was a war going on within me and I was losing.
What all these feelings of shame and inadequacy produced within me was a drive to prove to others that I was “good enough.” Unbeknownst to me at the time this drive to “prove myself to others” had become addictive. This is one of those addictions that people applaud. And not getting much of that growing up I kicked it into overdrive. By the way, I see this behavior in so many accomplished people here in the Silicon Valley. Their drive to succeed and be recognized leaves many of them exhausted and depressed. Outwardly they are smiling; inwardly they are dying.
Let me tell you it is hard to recognize negative traits that masquerade as strengths.
Eventually I became depressed. I could no longer keep up the pace of proving to others that I was “good enough.” Trying to change the harsh judgments of my childhood into positive ones through constantly proving myself to others exhausted me.
My friend Hal sat with me as I shared with him my pain and exhaustion. He pulled this verse out from 2 Samuel 14:14, “We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.”
Hal asked me if I recognized myself in that verse. I did. My judgments of myself made me feel like I was on the outside looking in. I felt like an outcast every time I gave into temptation that led to sin or whenever I failed in some area of my life. My diseased and broken thought life banished me from the mercy God extended to me to triumph over the judgments spoken over me throughout my childhood.
God has devised a way so that the banished one will not remain an outcast. It is called mercy. I’d love to walk you through how that happened but that will require another entry. Suffice to say over time I learned how to be kind to myself. I learned how to accept the mercy that triumphed over my stepfather’s judgments.
Final Thought: I’ve never considered a tattoo but if I was to get one it would say “Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment.”