This blog was originally written for a Lenten series on the Episcopal Service Corps Blog. The Episcopal Service Corps strives to serve others in solidarity, promoting justice in community, deepen spiritual awareness and vocational discernment, and live simply in intentional Christian community with young adults. This year I am a member of their program in Atlanta, GA.
I judge you. I judge you for the money you spend on that new bracelet. I judge you for the way you over-spiritualize your morning coffee. I judge you because you never use public transportation. I judge you by your lack of awareness for anything outside your own neighborhood.
And I pass this judgment like one passes salt and pepper at the dinner table- casually, almost unconsciously, and regularly. It bellows up within me some days. It blocks any goodness in you like a cumulonimbus cloud.
Yet I’ve come to know what I judge most of all, is my own soul.
I see all the minutes I have in a day, how I fail to use each one productively and I find this detestable. I retroactively watch my words falling out of my mouth, spurting with bitterness and I recoil at my behavior. I notice all the ways you encourage and I perseverate on my selfishness. I judge you because I judge myself. This exchange of hypocrisy and raising of eyebrows and shaming, though, murders any hint of grace.
Because each moment I fail to offer you or myself forgiveness, an extra try, a piece of understanding, or an assumption of good-will, I put my weight up against the door of grace that aches to open up within me. I push back on the door and limit myself from going anywhere. I keep myself locked in the room with judgment’s putrid presence.
I am the one who chooses to keep my back against the door. I can also be the one to feel the cool doorknob turn over in my palm and escape this judgment room.
Extending grace to myself might be that doorknob which allows me to extend grace to you. So in these forty days of reflection, I’ll reflect upon the grace I give to you and to myself. This Lent I’m choosing grace over judgment.