I made a deal with myself recently. Actually it's more like a rule. It's this: I'm not allowed to judge myself.
Usually, judging myself is in the form of this phrase: "What's wrong with me?"
Often, my thinking goes something like this: "I'm one of the most blessed people I know. I have a wonderful family. I have incredible friends. I'm healthy. I'm living out a dream. I get to be in one of the most special places on the planet. Why don't I feel awesome all the time? Why do I do or say stupid things? Why do I think self-defeating thoughts? Why do I make dumb choices about how I spend my time? Why aren't I the person I want to be yet? What's wrong with me?"
What I'm seeing more and more, though, is that "what's wrong with me?" question, the judgements I make toward myself, are part of a destructive mindset. It's a mindset that says God expects a certain kind of song and dance from me in exchange for blessing. It's a mindset that assumes God only loves me when I feel good about myself. It's an insidious attitude that wants to live well, do well, relate well and look good in order to feel I deserve God's love.
But God isn't like that. He's a God who made babies. And babies cry. Babies can't do anything for themselves. Babies are adorable even though they're messy and chubby and needy. We don't judge babies for making mistakes when they're learning to walk or talk or eat.
He's a God who made plants come from seeds. From sowing to harvest, there's a long process involving sun and rain and care and nurture and pruning.
He loves process. He created process. He loves my process, even when I don't feel awesome. He's in charge of my process of being and becoming. He's transforming my mind and healing my brokenness from many years of trying so hard to live up to my own standards and what I perceive others' standards to be.
In the Garden of Eden, there were two trees. One was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The other was the tree of life. Adam and Eve ate from the wrong tree. Since then, along with our sin and rebellion, we've been obsessed with judging ourselves and others to be good or evil. It's a miserable business.
What God actually wanted for us is the tree of life. The Bible starts with that tree and ends with it in Revelation 22, where the tree brings healing to the nations. Instead of causing us to be obsessed with knowing and judging good and evil -- the essence of religion -- the tree of life offers us freedom from all that through Jesus' breathtaking act of hanging on a tree.
So from now on, I choose not to judge myself. I choose to surrender to the process of being transformed from one degree of glory to the next. I choose to believe in the pleasure God takes in the process. I choose the tree of life.