Blessed be the Lord, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege.” (Psalm 31:21)
There is a difference between pursuing opportunities for self-growth and subjecting yourself to judgmental self-punishment. I recently watched a video of myself preaching, only to diminish mself with harsh critique. Why did I leave my reading glasses on top of my head? Why can’t I stop repeating “Um” and “Like” and making that weird clicking noise with my tongue? After watching this video, my inner critic jumped to exaggerated judgments. You are a terrible preacher, it said. People may have told you they liked what you said, but they were just being polite.
Small, yet relentless, messages of self-judgment are powerful in tearing us down. These messages do not speak truth, though. They exaggerate the worst. And they run counter to the messages God sends us. The psalmist relies on God’s steadfast love to bolster him under siege. The way we judge ourselves, exaggerating our faults and failures, can burden us as if we were a city besieged by enemies. In these moments, remember that God created you and loves you. You are God’s beloved. You are worthy of love. Fill your head and heart with these messages of steadfast love to free you from the burden of judgment.
Examine: Recall a recent failure or mistake you made. Breathe. Notice thoughts and feelings that arise. Notice your body’s response.
Imagine: Imagine God’s love above you like the sun. Can you feel its warmth? Visualize God’s love moving through you, consuming and casting out failure, mistakes and self-judgment. Allow God’s love the space to be free-flowing and steadfast.
Pray: Free me from this burden, O God, so I can live with your blessing.