My name is Kathy and I am a recovering addict of self righteousness and judging others. Those who know me may say that I am filled with insecurities and fears–how does that fit? It is the other side of the same coin. These traits together form a vicious continuing cycle, and I am starting to understand the basis for this.
Although I came from a loving and wonderful family, there was a legacy of judging. We couched our judging in terms like ”analyzing”, “critiquing”, or “critical thinking”. There was an underlying philosophy of respecting only those who earned it, as well as the life- guiding principle that a person could always do better.
Thus, if I got Aʼs and one B in school, I would hear,”The next time you can get all Aʼs.” There was even the idea that you could improve your looks by stretching your upper lip or make yourself more attractive by walking a certain way. I remember getting such instruction from my mom. The idea of being content in who you are was foreign to me. I know the same was true in the generation before me from comments from my mom and aunts.
As a result of this generational sin and some very mild sexual abuse, I came up with my own picture of righteousness. It was based on performance and pleasing others–not upon being a child of God and pleasing Him.
The blame does not belong to my parents for these sin patterns. I could have read the Bible, repented and broken this cycle. So while I explain our family tendency, it does not lay my sin at my familyʼs door.
Of course, I freely passed on these tendencies to the next generation. I became the impossible taskmaster to our boys. They could always do better. I saw the boys as extensions of me. My heart breaks for the repercussions of this: these traits in me undoubtedly colored our sonsʼ perception of God. We tend to see God as we perceive our parents.
During all of my childhood, I longed to know God. When I was 17, the gospel finally penetrated my personal fog of confusion and I embraced a relationship with Jesus enthusiastically. Unfortunately, the same issues of self righteousness and judging came right along with me, along with self hatred, fear, and insecurities resulting from the small sexual abuses in my life.
So to flesh out what my sin looked like in practical terms, here it is. There would be periods of striving, working, and perfectionism. “Now I am on the right track. I have it figured out. If I just do this formula perfectly my life, and the lives of those I love, will be good.” Then, of course, I would fail. Next came the spiral into inactivity and depression
until I would determine to try again. I was trying to earn Godʼs love and the right to exist.
There were some moments of brief clarity when I got a message through Bible study or the Holy Spirit that would illuminate my mind. These messages, however, could not penetrate my heart until I started Elijah House study around 2000. My false views of God, myself, and others started to dissolve as I realized that my perceptions were based on sinful thinking.
Elijah House is a ministry which gives big picture Biblical truths–spiritual principles. These principles are repeated over and over in the Bible, but somehow, in my previous study, I focused more on the rules of the Bible. EH made me understand that the big principles are not about rules but about freedom.
Interestingly, these teachings still could not penetrate into my heart deeply until I was diagnosed with cancer. The cancer pounded the truths home. God knew what I needed to really get these truths in my heart. Within a period of 3 years, I was diagnosed with 3 separate cancers. The last diagnosis of lymphoma was, according to oncological prognosis, incurable (However, I know that with God all things are possible). From 2007 to 2009, I had 10 surgeries–I have lost count of other procedures.
What were the truths that finally penetrated my heart? Simple things:
1. Jesus loves me. I am his child and I do not have to earn his love. No one can take that love away. My identity as His child can never be taken from me no matter what. My heart is safe in his hands. My security rests upon the blood of Jesus alone.
2. Nothing is really about me, no matter my perception. It is really all about God. He gives me the privilege, as His child, of doing life with Him. He will never leave me. Everything in my life goes through His hands before it reaches me, therefore, it is all good. I can give thanks for even the toughest things knowing they are for my good and for Godʼs purposes.
3. My purpose here on earth is to love and serve God. This, in practical terms, means trying to hear God by reading the Bible and listening to the Holy Spirit. In my childhood, I dreamed of being another Marie Curie or Clara Barton. I have come to understand that loving God simply means serving others in whatever ways God directs. That might mean respecting your husband or speaking words of encouragement. It might mean a very minor supporting role. God is interested in developing character and does not look at life and accomplishments as the world does. What made the patriarchs so special? They believed God and obeyed Him. Earth is a training ground for hearing and obeying God. That is love.
4. I can never forgive others enough to equal all the times that I need forgiveness. The rotten bitterness in me needs to be spewed out in confession. My heart needs ongoing cleansing. Truly, to err is human and to forgive is divine. Forgiveness is accomplished
by God himself. The process of recognition of bad fruit, confession, repentance and making restitution must be included in my life constantly, both for the past and for the present.
5. Transparency is the way to go. All will come out eventually either here on earth or in heaven. It is better just to be real. Really, the only one I can deceive with my prideful games is myself.
6. The only things I will leave behind me on earth of eternal value will be reflections of Godʼs character. All else is temporary.
My goal is that my weaknesses and sins become useful for reflecting His strength and goodness. I am involved in teaching Elijah House, and I pray that God will expand the territory of my usefulness.