I don’t know about you, but sometimes it feels like the older I get, the more painfully aware I am of my shortcomings. As I walk through deeper valleys, face more challenges, and God invites me to trust Him in bigger and more beautiful ways, sometimes it seems my weaknesses are highlighted! The truth is that in my own strength, I am weak. Though, the broader truth is that God no longer sees me as separate from Him so to assess things as such is a fallacy. I’m learning His perspective is so far from mine.
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to that pesky feeling of weakness and it’s harmful effect ...
When I slip down that slippery slope of self-criticism or judgment, I’m looking through a very narrow lens. If my life or season or week could be spread across a canvas, the critical lens is the equivalent of a telescope focusing only on the moments I “failed” or “dropped the ball” or showed up as anything except my best self. The critic is never a realistic picture; it’s always hyper-focused on the negative.
Humans have this tendency, right? If your boss mentions ten strengths and one area that needs improvement- which lingers? If your husband or friends give you positive feedback often, but once in a while admit there are some things you might need to work on, which comment captivates your focus? I hope that as a child you received loads of praise, though it’s likely you also received a least a handful of hurtful comments. My “handful of hurtful comments” seem benign as I sit here contemplating them. Though, in many ways, they negatively shaped much of my childhood, choices, and efforts to perform my way to the approval of others. If we allow them to, the negative comments stick to us like humidity on a summer day in the South.
When we rely on our perspective, we are likely to focus on the negative: our shortcomings, our sin, our yet-to-be-redeemed areas of life. This is not God’s perspective. It’s really that simple. It’s paramount that we make the ultimate upgrade and trade our viewpoint for His’! This starts with awareness, that is noticing when we grab our critical telescope and focus on the not-so-great parts of our behavior or life. Awareness doesn’t change things in and of itself, though it is necessary to change anything! At the risk of being dramatic (who are we kidding, I am absolutely dramatic), I believe our perspective is a matter of life or death.
You see, God doesn’t use that judgmental telescopic and slowly shake His head back and forth wishing we could get things together already. Hear me on this; God is not looking at your missteps, bad attitude, or the nth time you lost your cool today. He is looking at you through the righteousness of Jesus; He is looking at you through the lens of Love.
Sound too good to be true? Let me prove it to you.
Do you remember David in the Old Testament? The man God chose to be King over Israel who happens to be the same guy who committed adultery and murder? Wait for it, despite these actions God calls David a man after His own heart! I don’t know about you, but those are some pretty sizable mistakes, and I’m pretty sure that David was not seeking God’s heart while lusting after another man’s wife. Apparently, God sees things quite differently than I do.
Or, do you recall the fantastic Old Testament story of Gideon? He is a terrified man who God chooses to use in significant ways. God calls Gideon a mighty warrior! Friends, Gideon was scared spitless and struggled with doubt, but from Heaven’s perspective, he was a mighty warrior!
Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) is called righteous in God’s sight. That is a pretty strong word, in my opinion. Yet, when an angel appears to Zechariah and shares the good news that his barren wife will conceive a child, He responds in disbelief! Did you catch that? An angel shows up and declares a mighty miracle of God and Zechariah is like “Umm, that’s not possible, we are too old.” Evidently, Zechariah’s faith wasn’t complete, yet God called him blameless!
I can’t resist sharing a personal favorite- Peter. Peter denied Christ three times, to the point of death. Yet, after the Resurrection Jesus purposefully searches him out to reinstate him. He declares that the entire future of His ministry will depend on Peter! Jesus calls him a rock! That is wild. One thing is clear, Jesus was not looking at Peter’s actions to determine his identity or future. Jesus had an entirely different perspective.
I could go on and on describing similar stories. Stories in which my perspective appears the opposite of God’s. The only conclusion I can draw from these Words of Truth is that God's perspective is different than ours'! God sees us in the fullness of our destiny, from the perspective of our eternal identity instead of our current status, performance, or behavior. It seems His telescopic is focused only on our position in Christ. Of course, even as Christians, our sanctification is a process. That is, I still sin and fail and fall short each day in little or big ways.
Which is precisely the point I am belaboring! Even though we are weak and drop the ball, it just isn’t God’s focus. If it was, how could He call sinful men righteous and fearful men mighty? His perspective is not ours. His telescopic is not focused on the negative. Which is why I said gaining awareness of when we slip into self-judgment is a matter of life or death. Each time we condemn ourselves, we disagree with God. Each time we focus on our sin, we do not think as God does. I don’t know about you, but I really can’t afford to be making my own rules and going rogue with my thoughts. I need my thoughts to be lined up with His’.
Alright, back to awareness. It’s vital that we start with awareness because we are so darn used to that critical telescopic that we use it all day every day without even noticing! We must learn to stop ourselves each time we pick it up so that we can set it down. Luckily, we are not alone in this endeavor and this is one of the Holy Spirit's specialties! Simply ask Him for help.
Then, we need to ask for more help. (Do you see the pattern? We are entirely dependent on God to teach us His perspective!) Once we recognize our broken lens, we need to ask for His’! What is His perspective? What does His word say about us despite our current actions or situation?
The Bible is full of truths about your identity, so that’s always a good place to start! However, in the middle of the mess of unbelief or fear or sin, I encourage you also to ask what He thinks of you. What does He see? How does He feel about you? What does He want to say to you right in that moment?
Insert a long, awkward pause. This might sound wild. It might not be a pretty scene, but that’s okay. Maybe that’s the point. In the middle of your breakdown, failed attempt to do differently, or immediately after you made a mistake or lose your temper- right then and there stop. Confess your sin and then confess the self-judgment that wants to keep you on the hook. Then, ask Him for His perspective on the matter. He will tell you, and I bet His opinion will knock your socks off.
This isn’t the type of thing you do once and then nail moving forward. It will take some time. Asking for His perspective and choosing to integrate it into your life is a process. And, that’s okay. Let’s be real; God is all about the process.
Friend, God does not see you as you see yourself. He is not zoomed in on your mistakes or repeated blunders. It’s time for an upgrade. It’s time to learn how He sees you!
How does this idea hit you? Perhaps you struggle to believe that God sees beyond your behavior. Maybe you have beat yourself up for so long that the thought of God having an alternative perspective sounds as real as a fairy tale. I wonder if this very day He is nudging you to take a look through His telescope, laying yours down each and every time you pick it up. Wherever this finds you, simply lean into Him today. Ask for His help as you learn to live from His perspective.
If you need help integrating this concept into your daily rhythms, let me know. That’s the very thing I love to help women do!
P.S. This is one of my very favorite concepts. While not directly addressing self-judgment, it absolutely addresses the power of perspective. Check it out if you need a little encouragement today!