I've been reminded lately of how I've felt judged most of my life. When I was very little, family members would often imply that I was the "wild one" of the family. I was sassy and outspoken. I had a voice. I had thoughts and opinions. Maybe they didn't match up with what made my family comfortable. I was searching for myself. Trying to figure out what made me special.
As I got older, the judgement continued. I was old enough to separate from my family and venture out on my own, but I still felt terribly judged. I would sit in church and look around and see people just like me. I knew how they lived their lives because I'd seen them outside of the church pew. I heard them talk. I saw what they did. But, on Sundays, man they were different. And I wondered... if you have to be someone else on Sunday than you are on Monday through Saturday what's going on?
I was confused. I felt afraid and ashamed. Yes, part of it was the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But, a big part of it was judgement by my peers. Family and friends who were sinners, just like me. I felt like I could not move without being a failure. I felt condemned by people who were also imperfect. I loved Jesus. I wanted to serve Him. I had accepted Him as my Savior. But, something held me back.
No matter what I did or didn't do seemed to fill me with fear and guilt. I was convinced that I would never be good enough. I couldn't be a Christ follower. I would never measure up. I thought that being a good Christian was impossible for me. I cannot even begin to describe the weight of the affliction from other
opinions about me.
Becoming a parent made me realize that if I could feel this much love, compassion, and forgiveness for my kids, how much more does my Heavenly Father feel for me! I muddled through as best as I could for as long as I could. But, the tugging on my heart became too much to ignore. I wanted more. I had to search for it. I had to go on a hunt for it. I wanted it. I needed it. I knew it had to be out there! I had to have been looking in all the wrong places all this time. I was determined to find Freedom! And I did.
I've discovered God is not in religion. That's man's doing. But, God is in churches all over the world. He meets us when we gather to worship Him. He shows up at the party! I found the place where I can live in this broken world as a broken girl who needs a Savior! I am good enough despite the fact that I am not worthy. He loved me that much. He knew my shortcomings. He knew my sin. He has touched me where my imperfection glues me together. He's kissed the scrapes and bruises. And He hung on that tree. For me. Sassy and outspoken. Thoughts and opinions. Lost and searching. Broken and imperfect. Forgiven.
Do I still feel judged? Yes. From time to time. Those same people have those same opinions. Or maybe they don't. Maybe it's my perception. But, no matter the case, they don't get under my skin and into my head anymore. There is no room for them. My heart is full because of the communion I have with God. I know that because I have a relationship with Christ~ the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit~ nothing else matters. It's not what the world thinks of me that is important. What really matters is my willingness to be obedient. When I have a conviction or a question, I look to His Word now. That's the only rule I care to follow. And I have found freedom there. So, if you're feeling the same oppression as I once did, you know you don't have to settle for that. Freedom is waiting for you, too! You just have to look for it! It's waiting.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
"He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32