“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you.” -Matthew 7: 1-2
Jesus taught, “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be ‘yes, yes’ or ‘no, no’; and anything beyond these is of evil.” -Matthew 5: 34-36
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”-Galatians 6: 7
When I was an adolescent in what was then called Junior High School, (7th through 9th grades), I had a fear that dominated every area of my life. I didn’t realize what it was back then, but as the years have passed, I now understand how the secret shame we carry in our lives is often the impetus for our outward successes. And even because some of us have ultimate success in a particular area of life, if we don’t deal with the fear and shame, they will become a taskmaster in all areas of our lives.
Somewhere along the way as a child, I believed a lie that who I was as a person, just wasn’t enough. IT CAME FROM MY OWN JUDGEMENTS OF PEOPLE, MY FAMILY AND COMPARING MYSELF IN AN UNHEALTHY WAY TO MY PEERS, but it took root in my little soul at a very young age. Often, the source of self-comparison is not insecurity…it’s Pride. More about this later.
As a result, deep-seated insecurity due to my pride about “being good enough” took hold and actually changed my personality. By the time I reached the age of 14, instead of just going through my school life normally, like any other boy, I would compete in EVERYTHING. Not only would I compete, but the pride that manifested itself as insecurity, caused me to practice, practice, practice speaking correctly, dressing the right way, and especially in sports, training to exhaustion.
I recall on the first day of track in 7th grade, when the 7th – 9th graders were told to run a mile (which was roughly up to some railroad tracks and back), I couldn’t just enjoy running alongside my teammates, I HAD TO WIN! So delicate was my self-esteem, I forced myself to run so hard, that I DID eventually beat everyone to the tracks and back. My coach said, “You are going to run the Half Mile!”
It didn’t stop there. On weekends, I would ask my mother to drive me to the Junior High School, which was just a few miles from my home so I could train alone for hour after hour. Every weekend, I would run 8 to 10 miles, using a stopwatch, training all because I couldn’t stand the idea of being beaten in front of other people…(especially girls!) I had judged those who came in second and third as real LOSERS. As a result, I still have a little shoebox with over 70 First Place ribbons for the Half Mile. The second and third place ribbons are there too, but I never regarded those as anything but proof that I had failed and had to try HARDER.
My experience reminds me of a movie I saw decades ago called, “The Loneliest Runner” written and directed by Michael Landon of Bonanza.
The Loneliest Runner follows the story of 13-year-old John Curtis (played by Kerwin, and based by Landon on himself), who still wets his bed. The problem is publicized by his mother Alice (Mears), who goes so far as to hang her son’s stained bed sheets up in the window for everyone to see. Fearing his friends will see the stained sheets, John runs home from school every day and takes them down to avoid further humiliation. Soon, however, the running becomes more than a race home but an ambition. Partly because he loves it, and also to help him forget his shame and hurt of his miserable home life, John starts running with the junior track team to channel his anger. Ten years later, John Curtis (played by Landon himself) is an Olympic marathon runner and a gold-medal-winner. During a post-race interview, he gives credit to his mother for his success as a runner.
Because I had made unfair comparisons between our home and the homes of my peers, our income, our car…everything, a PERFECTIONISTIC lie permeated everything I did. I had to PROVE I was more than what I perceived as a lower-middle-class kid. SHAME caused me to overcompensate for my clouded perceptions. Who I really was… was like a stained sheet hung up in my window, and winning is what pulled those sheets down so no one could see them.
When you carry shame from your past with you, it is very likely that you are still trying to compensate in some way because of the false belief that was planted long ago. My compensation became PERFECTIONISM… (Walk straight, never use double negatives when speaking, dress with care, practice how you react to people…) On and on. Because perfection is such a high standard, procrastination became my closest ally.
Some people become workaholics, others sexaholics still others engage in a quest to never become like their parents. Sometimes, the shame they carry is due to being abused physically or sexually. There are some who make what is called a “destructive inner vow.” Inner vows and “bitterroot judgments” are responses to hurts, unfulfilled expectations, or unmet needs. They can be defined as decisions or determinations designed by the child and set into the heart as templates or “tracks to follow” until they are broken. Examples of destructive inner vows and bitter root judgments are
“I’ll never be fat like my mother…
”I’ll never let anyone get close to me again…
“I’ll never yell at my kids the way my father did!
“We will never go without like my family had to do growing up “
“The fruit from inner vows does not always show up immediately. Instead, these statements may lie dormant and forgotten, until triggered by the right person or situation. Yet over time judgments begin to manifest outwardly in several ways. Excessive anger, hatred, guilt, anxiety, and compulsive behavior can point to vows; as can responses to a given situation….” (Eberhardt)
If you battle with comparisons, self-hatred, guilt or any compulsive behavior, always remember that freedom from these things was bought and paid for at the Cross of Jesus. There is freedom and deliverance from the oppressive thoughts that crowd your mind and heart. I have personally experienced the freedom that comes from surrendering all of my judgments and destructive inner vows to the foot of the Cross. When Jesus rose from the dead, he left death, shame, and corruption in the tomb. He left all of your fears, all of your insecurities and all of your judgments wrapped in grave clothes.
The resurrection of Jesus breaks chains. The church has not emphasized this very much in the past few decades. Salvation encompasses EVERY area of our lives, not just eternal life in the FUTURE, but abundant life NOW!