7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
Insecurity is a breeding ground for judgement. I used to think people judge, because they think they are better than the one they judge. The opposite can be true.
I don’t talk about it often on my blog (read: ever), but I have a background of abuse in my childhood. That meant that I started keeping secrets. In fact, I got so good at keeping them, that I was leading a double life.
In later years, I found out through counselling , that a spirit of perfection often lingers with a survivor of abuse long after the abuse has stopped. “If you just do better or look as if you do, then you are not so dirty”, the voices told me. So, I tried harder to look perfect. I was a school prefect (a peer leader), youth group leader, danced in a Christian drama group and I went on mission trips. Model child. Not.
My jokes could make even older boys blush, I drank with them and lied to my Dad about where I was (“he deserves it, because he…”). I went on joyrides with friends who stole their parents’ cars and I pushed the boundaries in every way I could. As long as no one who thought I was perfect, found out. If a teacher or pastor or parent did, I would contemplate suicide, ashamed at even the thought of them knowing who I really was.
I say “was”, because today I am not that person anymore. I really am not. God came and gently pulled that perfectionism mat right from under me and caught me in His arms. Now I couldn’t care what people think of me (ask my friends, they’ve seen my home).
But sometimes, just sometimes, a memory lingers of those times when I had to perform and lie and impress. It happens mostly in church actually which is weird, because that is exactly where I am supposed to be most free to be myself.
I see other Christians who are like me, with not-so-perfect pasts or presents – and I judge them. I judge them on categories of: Real/Fake Christians, Mature/Immature, Merciful/Judgmental (can anybody say: hypocrite) and Humble/Proud.
It happened this week with someone I knew a long time ago, who is now in ministry, but who had an unsavoury past. The moment the thought came into my head and I started to snuggle with it for a while, I heard that familiar little voice say:
“It is not your job to decide who is real and who is not.”
Really? It’s not? That is kind of freeing.
Counselling has also reminded me to look at the root of the problem in stead of the rotten fruit that I see in front of me. When I went to go look at the root of why I judge so easily, I realised this:
A part of me still sometimes reverts to that perfectionist spirit. I am not saying I am not free from it, I just mean it’s more like a muscle memory if that makes sense. Like reverting to survival mode when you are in a new or threatening situation.
So when I am judging you, I am actually judging myself. Because I had secrets, I learnt to judge you to take the attention away from myself. And because I was not real, maybe neither are you?
But Jesus, Oh Jesus! He came to this adulterous woman and instead of judging her, He gave her mercy. And when He showed the religious leaders their sin, they dropped their stones and left. Maybe they realised what I did: That we judge others for things we do ourselves. Or to protect ourselves.
So I am dropping my stones. I am letting people know me as I am and I am loving people as they are. I will give mercy especially when it would be easier to judge.
Because He loves me the way I am. The “Great I Am” forgave me. So I think I can cut you some slack…