The problem is that we believe the system is objective.
And just like we believe the academic system is objective, we believe the voice is too.
But judgment is supposed to improve our performance. Right?
After all, the runner trains against the clock. The dieter uses the scale. The investor looks at the balance sheet. We measure. We evaluate. We adjust our strategy based on the information to create improvement.
The problem comes when we confuse objective information to be used for improvement (clock, scale, balance sheet) with judgment which involves sentencing. To be clear, there is a difference in the self-inquiry required to grow and the day-to-day self trial and punishment most of us live under.
Judgment separates. It places into categories and creates walls between things. This is why judgment is so devastating. We were made to be connected.
Our judgment is not objective. Why? Because we cannot pull ourselves from the equation. Our "selves" cannot handle being evaluated therefore there is something in our judgments that is always factoring "us" in. This can be based on ego, but it is also based in emotion. There is an emotional part of us that absolutely cannot handle rejection.
We externalize our judgments. Because we are at the center of our own universe, we often believe that everyone judges with the same criteria we do. So rather than seeing our judgment as a potentially faulty jury pool of one, we feel like the whole world judges exactly like us. (Which makes us feel more "right" than we really are.) Worse, we often co-opt God into our opinions. (Which makes us feel really, really "right.")
Why does all of this matter? Judgment creates patterns and cycles in our lives that are destructive. We wind up judging others (and—believing we are right—mete out the sentencing and punishment that goes with that) and we judge ourselves (and being unable to stand up under that become houses divided against ourselves.)
So what is the remedy?
To see that we are terrible judges. We are so bad at this. In our hubris, we set ourselves up as little gods sentencing the world. We have to stop. It isn't our job. More importantly, it has zero power to improve things.
To own that we are loved. Scripture is so clear that we are loved fully and completely. But something in us believes that love is for everyone except us. That God would like us better if we would just ___________. Whatever your mind just put in the blank, it is untrue. God is love. Is. Love. Imagine love as a person and what that might be like and how love would relate to you. Warm embraces. Encouragement. Smiles. Little gifts to say 'I was thinking about you.' Endearments. Love is a person, and we are made in His image which makes us love too.
To stop judging ourselves. I bet that sentence made something in you cringe. After all, if we stop beating ourselves up, how will we ever get better so that we can be acceptable? The beauty of Jesus Christ is that we are acceptable. "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus..." But we are so afraid to let it go. We can let it go.
Okay, so if judgment isn't the path to improvement, then what is?
I believe love is the path to improvement. Experiencing God's love by connecting with Him on a daily basis and sharing that love in practical ways with everyone around us creates transformation. We don't have to externalize improvement. It lives inside of us. Just like a seed has all of the right DNA inside of it to grow into the flower it is meant to be, so do we.
Scripture talks about us being the "temple of the Holy Spirit." Our bodies as God's living space on this earth. Why in the world are we looking outside? We should be looking in. I cannot overemphasize the power of going inward in quiet and connecting with that love inside of us.
God is not formal. The most desperate inarticulate cries are responded to.
But most of us don't trust that? Why? Because we have judged God too. And we have judged Him as someone who doesn't particularly like us. Someone who wouldn't want to hang out with us.
We are terrible judges. Time to set the gavels aside.