Finding your balance can be hard. Work-Life balance, a balanced diet, inner balance, a good pair of New Balance…. all are worthy goals, to be sure, but not all come easily. I am more balanced today than I have ever been, and that worries me. Not because I might lose it – I feel pretty sure footed, and if do start to teeter, I’ve built a life with cushions for the inevitable falls. What worries me is what someone sees who isn’t quite there yet.

For a long time I was…unbalanced, in many, many ways. I married and divorced in my twenties. If you have ever been in a ‘fun house’ at a carnival that is nothing compared to the topsy turvy life I lived in my twenties. Bad decisions seemed to pile up like leaves in New England, just not nearly so picturesque. All that time I would see people who looked so very balanced, but rather than being encouraged or inspired, I was unnerved and disturbed by them. Balanced people made me feel horrible and judged. Balanced people made me feel like there was something really wrong with me – something in my core. Balanced people made me rebellious.

With hindsight, I can see that it was really the Spirit inside me trying to show me that it was possible to be balanced and happy and full of life. But in the midst of it, I just couldn’t see it. What could have been inspiring, all to often ended up being a hinderance. Whether it was friends, or even members of my family, all I could see was how far apart we were. It didn’t help that there really actually was judgement from some – we humans are really good at creating balance with a heavy portion of judgement. Not everyone, but enough that I felt justified in my rebellion. I never wanted to be the kind of person that couldn’t extend mercy and grace into a situation. Seeing, or at least perceiving, people withhold grace was an effective obstacle for a long time.

I don’t think I can really explain how I got around it, but I’ll try. Over time, attending a church that I really loved, I started to focus on myself and I stopped worrying about others. I started to see that my rebellious attitude and righteous indignation was really another form of judgement. I began to see that my fear, my pain, and my regret was the window through which I viewed all these ‘perfect’ people. It took a long time but at some point it finally clicked that if I would just clean my own window – not only would I see the world with more clarity – but people could actually start to see the real me. Not the me through the film of bad choices but the real me. The me that God made, the me that Christ saved.

So here I am, with a fairly clean window. But there are still those smudges that just won’t come off, not in this lifetime. I’m still more selfish than I want to be. I’m still a little judge-y myself at times – mainly as a defense mechanism when I feel like I’m being judged. So silly really. I still care an awful lot about what other people think – that one I think is healthy to a certain extent…but I probably pass that extent, on more than a few occasions.

And now that I have this clearer vision, I have more balance, and I worry about the wobbly people out there. I don’t want them to feel about me, the way I would have felt about me ten years ago. I don’t want to instill rebellion or a feeling of judgement. I don’t want to cause someone to crawl further away from who they were made to be. I want to hand out New Balance running shoes and maps. I want to encourage people and tell them – it’s just a dirty window – not a soiled life!

Let’s just make a little pledge – if we have a friend that is making bad choices, if we know someone who is running the wrong way, if we see someone whose decisions have left them in a big mess, let’s pledge that we will at least remember, even if they do not yet know – it is just a dirty window, not a soiled life. Let’s extend grace and mercy – only to the extent that we have received it. Of course that is immeasurable, so we should have plenty for everyone. Let’s try to not be a stumbling block. Let’s be over-achievers in the not judging, realizing that they are perceiving a ton of judgement – justified or not. Because, really, we don’t want to judge. We don’t want to judge. We want to help.

No one could have both judged me and led me into the light. It is simply impossible to both judge and lead. Once I was in the light I could judge for myself what needed to be changed and I did. Then God sent refiners into my life. They are with me still today – refining and polishing and showing me those smudges with so much love and kindness that they often don’t even know He is using them.

I am so thankful for those loving people He sent into my life in Atlanta that just said – you are ok today. You made a good choice today. I don’t care about yesterday, let’s just worry about today. No matter what, God still wants you in His family. He wants you especially. He wants us all, especially. Their love led me.

The holidays are a good opportunity to mend fences, to begin anew, to offer a listening heart and a loving hand. My prayer is that God will reveal anyone in our path that feels like I used to feel and helps us to somehow show them….it’s nothing a little windex can’t fix.

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