I hail from a long line of judgmental souls who sometimes wish they were kinder than they are (or were). I know this both as judged and judger. And I wrestle mightily with each.
“Me, too,” God chimes in with a gentle punch to my shoulder. It’s hot today. We’re enjoying the living room, cooled by the thick cement floor and sizable rocks absorbing the ambient heat. This makes me happy and severely judgmental of anyone who thoughtlessly builds shelter without passive solar features. Cooling and heating with fossil fuels provides easy comfort while hastening our extinction. I’m also mean to people who forget to turn off the lights, use too much toilet paper, do laundry with hot water, or leave their engines running for more than 30 seconds.
“Judging is a trap,” God says. “A sure way to slide into the lake of sticky, jealous, self-centered misery.”
“But you’re like the Judger-in-Chief. How do you avoid the lake of sticky, jealous, self-centered misery?”
“Oh, I don’t. I slide right in. There’s always someone swimming around in that cesspool of righteousness. I usually bring lifejackets and a ladder.”
“And?” I ask. I imagine God offering flotation devises to weary people dogpaddling around in the soup of their own harsh judgments.
“Usually, no takers. But occasionally someone sheds those weighty layers of pride, takes my hand, and asks for a towel.” God smiles. “I like it so much when that happens.”
“But they got there because they correctly assessed that others are stupid, hateful, selfish, or inferior, right?”
I smile a wonky smile. I know my judgments aren’t always accurate or loving. Furthermore, judgments leveled at me fail to consider how hard I’m trying. And finally, people foolishly judge God, or impose cruel judgements in the name of God, causing injury rather than healing. “So, what’s there to do?” I add.
“Forgive, forgive, forgive,” God says. “Forgive.”
“I knew you were going to say that.” I shake my head. “But sometimes, I don’t want to, or I don’t know how.”
“Work on it,” God says. “Take your soul to a car wash. Eat some of your choice words for dessert. Refocus on justice, not revenge. Give with a smile; don’t take with a snarl. Say thank you. Life’s neither easy nor fair, and that can be incredibly sad, so once in a while, curl up and cry it out.”
God lays down and curls tight to demonstrate. I’m afraid the tears are going to begin so I hop off the couch and try to tickle God’s underarms. The last thing I need today is a weeping God.
“Gottcha!” God yells, grabs my arm, and pulls me down to tickle back. We roll around like bear cubs, nipping, laughing, trying to pin each other.
“It’s okay to bite a little,” God says. “But don’t break the skin.”