She sits on the yet unpainted piano bench by the window in my yoga studio. I stand on the end of my yoga mat. I take a few deep breaths. She does too. Then I begin. She follows suit. I raise my arms high above my head and fold into Half Moon Pose. She tells me to straighten my hips, to pull my shoulder blades down and back, to engage the muscles in my legs. She tells me it’s almost good enough. I tell her to shut up. I release on an exhale, separate my feet six inches apart, and inhale into Awkward Pose. She says “You’re not engaging your core! Tailbone back, BACK! Goodness gracious would you BREATHE?!?” I glare at her. I tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I insist that she CUT IT OUT with all the gosh darn JUDGEMENT!
Have you met her? You might have spent many hours with her. You might have had some of the same ridiculous conversations with her. She’s my judge. She is the part of me that picks apart everything I do. She provides the daily Chinese water torture analysis of my existence. She is me. Don’t worry, I do not need psychotherapy. I am talking about the tendency of women to strive for perfection. We pursue meaningless and unachievable standards of accomplishment, body shape, and success meanwhile inwardly telling ourselves we are not measuring up. We constantly remind ourselves of what we are doing wrong. Why do we judge ourselves?
But wait, it gets better. My yoga instructor has a saying he likes to use in class. His goal is to help the class focus and avoid thoughts of the rest of our day. He says “if you begin to have thoughts, allow them to float by you like clouds in a clear blue sky”. I don’t know about you, but if I am outside looking up at the sky and there is one cloud, one singular cloud in a clear blue sky, it gets 100% of my attention. Forget about all that clear blue, check out that CLOUD! My thoughts get treated similarly. As a judgmental thought comes into my head, I notice it and I respond to it. Usually with anger. So now, not only am I refusing to accept where I am in life and be grateful, I am judging my judge!
By engaging our inner judges, don’t you think we give them more power? When I respond to a judgmental thought with anger or frustration, isn’t that wholesale acceptance of what my judge is telling me? Am I truly buying into the very thoughts that I find so despicable? Am I affirming the negative beliefs about myself? Am I ultimately doing the same damage to my soul that we argue fashion magazines and television are doing to the soul of society?
As I have been pondering this I have come to a few conclusions.
In the case of sin in our lives, responsive repentance is necessary. Jesus says in John 14 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” There is an inner voice that is the prompting of the Holy Spirit to bring us to turn away from our sin. This is not the judgmental voice we have been discussing.
I must treat the judge with gentleness. She is throwing a two-year-old temper tantrum in the aisle of the grocery store. Keep walking. She’ll calm down. I must be kind to her because, well, she is me. She is not the attractive, ready-for-my-closeup part of me, but she is me. I must let her go on her merry judgmental way. I must remind myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made as David says in the Psalms. I must remind myself of the Sovereignty of God, not the sovereignty of me. I must not give in to the illusion that my judge somehow makes me a better person. Her voice cannot change me. Only the way I respond to my judge can make a difference in my life.