I was listening to Johnny Cash singing hymns like "Just as I am" and "In the Sweet By and By" – hymns my grandmas used to hum while rubbing my back to get me to sleep – in the car this morning. There's something about those twangy ballads, especially when performed by the older version of Mr. Cash, that tugs at my heart. How full they are of acceptance that life is hard, really hard sometimes. The faith expressed within them comes off not so much as glossy as raw and desperate:
Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt
fightings and fears, within, without
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
This week I was convicted big time about what an ass I make of you and me by assuming – by summing people up all neat and tidy in my head. In a round about way, I was accidently exposed to the private overwhelming trials of an aquaintance, and then BAM! it all came flooding back to me, those occasions within the past month I had jumped to conclusions about the intentions of others. This realization (and chance to repent) is a gift, truly. Being made aware of how susceptible I am to the making of loveless and ignorant judgements about my fellow human beings carrying burdens I can't imagine, and how yucky it feels to wake up to your own hypocrisy, makes me all the more hungry for death to my prideful self.
"You cannot be too gentle, too kind. Shun even to appear harsh in your treatment of each other. Joy, radiant joy, streams from the face of him who gives and kindles joy in the heart of him who receives. All condemnation is from the devil. Never condemn each other. We condemn others only because we shun knowing ourselves. When we gaze at our own failings, we see such a swamp that nothing in another can equal it. That is why we turn away, and make much of the faults of others. Instead of condemning others, strive to reach inner peace. Keep silent, refrain from judgement. This will raise you above the deadly arrows of slander, insult and outrage and will shield your glowing hearts against all evil."
—St Seraphim of Sarov
That quote right there packs one serious punch. If I spent the rest of my days here on earth focused only on that singular goal of never condemning another individual, it would be time and energy so very well spent. Oh the freedom inherent in love void of condemnation, envy, selfishness, and malice! Lord Have Mercy on me that I may never grow numb to the sting of being misunderstood or mercilessly categorized. Help me strive not to" be right" but for an inner peace that heals and brings hope to all it touches.