I have a handful of people in my life who semi-regularly judge me. I mean, there are more than a handful, I’m sure, but I have a handful who count. And when I say they judge me, I should also be clear that I feel judged. I don’t have any reliable idea whether they’re actually judging or not. We’ve established that I can go years feeling judged, only to realize that it’s my own insecurity talking, not my husband telling me I suck.
(Now that the disclaimers are out of the way…)
Like I said, I feel judged by these few, and their opinions happen to matter to me because our relationship warrants my listening and because their lives demonstrate that I have things to learn from them. (Basically, they have their stuff together in areas where I do not. Or more together.)
Not long ago, I was talking to someone (in this category- relationally close and sort of together) about some struggles I’ve had with my kiddos. She mentioned that the behavioral things can be trained out with consistent discipline, and… there it was.
I forgot to mention that the worst part of feeling judged is when they’re right.
At this point, I was internally falling fast into a shame spiral and externally carrying on a good conversation with her like nothing ever happened, carefully easing the topic to something more neutral. After a few minutes, I was able to ignore the internal part for awhile and move on with my afternoon.
But the shame spiral was still there, waiting for me when the conversation was over.
It’s yucky, right? This judged feeling? But I’m trying so, so hard not to just get lost in the “woe is me, I’m such a bad mom/wife/Christian/human” cesspool, because it doesn’t produce anything good, so when I saw myself headed there, I paused a second.
What do I do now?
Is there truth that I need to hear in what she said?
Are there lies I’m telling myself about it?
I’m buried in shame. Shame can’t survive when it’s spoken. I need to talk to somebody safe.
I spoke with my husband. He knows I’m doing my best with what I have. The shame withered significantly just doing that, so I was able to talk to God about the rest, and the truth is I’m not consistent enough, and these particular struggles really do reflect my inconsistency. But we are working on it. The lies I was telling myself about what this means about my worth as a mom were a bigger problem than this one area of growth.
Then I rested. (It happened to be bedtime anyway, so this was simpler than it could’ve been.) I rested in the fact that Jesus has already paid the price for my inconsistency and failures as a parent—I don’t need to do penance, punishing myself. That the Holy Spirit lives in me and can continue to teach me to do better. That the Father knows that I’m just dust. He knows my limitations and struggles.
Judgement from others doesn’t always end this way, obviously. But I’m learning (painfully slowly) to find grace in places where shame used to overwhelm me.
This post is part of a 31-day series called “Grace in Failure.” Other posts from the series can be found here.