Below are my Aunt Betty’s words to me in one of our spiritual direction sessions. I can’t remember what I was going through at the time, but I wrote down her wisdom in red.
“Jesus drew close to the people who were dealing with their weaknesses. The Pharisees were in denial of their of their sins and projecting them onto others. Jesus criticized the Pharisees:
‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.’ (Matthew 23:27)
The Pharisees weren’t facing their unhealed parts. Instead of looking at their own sinfulness, they were busy condemning others. If we want to get closer to the Lord, we have to deal with the parts in ourselves we don’t like. Once when in chapel, I wanted to bring the best version of myself to chapel, yet the Lord wanted me to bring Him my brokenness, not my holy part. I found that by bringing my ugly parts to Jesus, I acknowledge those parts and then He can heal them. ‘You’ve got to feel it to heal it .’
Christians want to please Jesus and present the good parts of themselves to Him, but Jesus hung out with sinners. In order to be truly merciful with others, we need to look at the places where we too have failed.
Often our children will pick up some of our unhealed traits and act them out. The mistake parents can make is to condemn their children rather than see where they’ve failed in the same way. I’m reminded of the scripture,
‘How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.’ (Luke 6:42)
Until we make friends with our unhealed places, we can’t control them. We are too busy denying them. We can’t control a part of us that we refuse to accept. ‘God, have mercy on me a sinner.’ Praise God when He brings someone in your life who will help you see your brokenness.
One Lent, I heard the Lord tell me to fast from negative judgments on Sister X. This nun used to really annoy me. I prayed for her and saw the Lord’s light coming into her and me. I said, ‘Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.’ By the end of Lent, I felt love for Sister X. The sister came up to me after Lent and said, ‘You love me Betty.’ The Lord had changed my heart. I couldn’t have changed my heart if I was still judging Sister X.
We get more drawn into negative judgment where people are carrying our shadow. ‘For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ (Matthew 7:2)
We try to destroy in others that which we don’t like in ourselves—the part most like our shadow. If we have judgments on people, they pick it up. The person will annoy us more if we’re judging them. We can be hooked into each other in a nonverbal way. That’s why often people change as we drop our negative thinking of them. They become a lot better around us. If someone gets your goat, ask the Lord where you are like him or her, so you can pray into it. If they get on our nerves, we haven’t finished our work in that area.
On the other hand, sometimes we project our potential on another and put them on a pedestal. We put them on it with our good qualities, and thus aren’t seeing them as they are. When a girl falls in love, she can’t see any imperfections in her beloved. But after marriage, she sees his faults. What’s changed is that she sees the whole of him. She doesn’t have to project the perfect. True love can’t happen until then.”