A few weeks ago, I was in a power hot yoga class when the long and lean gal next to me caught my eye. Instead of focusing on my side plank with a tree variation, I ended up going down the rabbit hole of self-loathing (and falling out of my pose!). Three months postpartum, my body is a bit, well, squishy. And let’s face it, postpartum or not, being five feet and almost one inch tall, I’ve never been particularly long!
I felt a conviction in my spirit, and immediately the thought filled my head: “You aren’t loving her if you’re judging her.”
“But Lord!” I argued, “I’m not judging her! I’m admiring her!”
“No, you’re not,” He answered. “And for that matter, you can’t love others well when you’re judging yourself.”
How You Think About Others (And Yourself) Affects Your Ability to Love Others
This was definitely an “ah ha!” moment for me. When I look at someone else through any other lens but love and humility, they can probably feel it, whether I say anything or not. I’m not able to love them well, listen well, or give genuine encouragement because I’m too busy analyzing them and making it about me somehow. Similarly, when I focus on myself in a negative way and forget who I am in Christ, I’m unable to receive love from, listen to, or gain encouragement from the Lord because I’m not focusing on hearing from Him. Again, I’m making it about me.
One of my favorite quotes from Tim Keller about humility is to “not think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less” (from his book The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness). Whoo! Isn’t that a refreshing little nugget? What God put on my heart during that class totally energized me. He gave me the freedom to love myself and those around me. He cut the heavy chains of judgment right off and I felt happy and calm. At the end of the class when the instructor closed with the traditional “Namaste,” I giggled to myself as I formed the phrase “Namastay Calm and Carry On” to hopefully remind myself to stay in this mindset. I looked over at the girl rolling up her bright purple mat and smiled, thinking about how nice it would be to be able to ask her how she is and genuinely mean it; how nice would it be to look for ways to encourage her and love her because I was so very encouraged and loved on by my Jesus.
When I focus on myself in a negative way and forget who I am in Christ, I’m unable to receive love from, listen to, or gain encouragement from the Lord because I’m not focusing on hearing from Him. I’m making it about me.
Release Judgment to Embrace Tenderness
When I got back to my in-laws’ house, I went upstairs, and in my bathroom, there was a little flip calendar. On the exact day, it said, “Let your powerful words be set off with mercy and tenderness” and the Scripture underneath read, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
I left the calendar open on that day for the next few days. It reminded me every morning to listen and look for ways to love and encourage those around me by “building them up according to their needs.” It really is calming and so very healthy to release judgment and comparison from your thought life. I’m praying and hoping that today you know how much Jesus loves you. He made you, He died for you, He lives for you, and He wants you to experience peace and freedom.
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