by Joanie Butman
Maybe it was divine payback for my comment about circumcision in an earlier post, but I sliced off the tip of my finger last week. I kid you not. Selling Cutco knives was the costliest summer job my son ever held. This is the third trip to the emergency room since I became his first customer. Not that the tip of one’s forefinger can compare to other more sensitive areas, but it was painful. As I sat in the emergency room, I wondered what I was supposed to learn from this episode, other than to be more careful or perhaps eat out more. Maybe God was telling me I was using that finger too often to point towards others rather than concentrate on my own issues. Who knows? I certainly had plenty of time to ponder in the waiting room while waiting to be stitched up. As I was leaving, the nurse suggested I use a finger condom to keep it dry. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
Something else happened the same week that reinforced my initial assessment. While driving home from dinner, I was pulled over for driving with my high beams on. Who knew it was a violation? I didn’t even know they were on. Furthermore, I can’t imagine who I was disturbing because it was well past Marco midnight, which is 9PM. There wasn’t a soul on the road other than me – and this officer apparently. Considering the dubious driving of the elderly population here, I found it comical that he would choose something as innocuous as failing to dim high beams for a citation. When I arrived at the police station to pay the summons, even the other officers laughed: “No one gives a ticket for high beams.” They too were stunned. Due to the rarity of a citation of this sort, I looked for some deeper meaning. Do I go through life with my high beams annoying everyone else while leaving my own faults in the dark?
You may think it a stretch, but there seems to be a theme here. Maybe what God wants me to fast from during Lent (and life) is judging others. I didn’t consider myself a judgmental person, which is probably why He had to ‘point’ it out to me so ‘glaringly.’ My finger was stuck in a pointing position for ten days as a constant reminder of the matter. Thank goodness it wasn’t my middle finger. The officer writing the ticket would have given me a citation for that as well!
Who knows what the final medical bills will total for my finger circumcision. The ticket cost me $163. Both were costly lapses in judgment and painful in different ways but nowhere near the consequences of being judgmental towards others. One of Christ’s many admonitions regarding the sin of judgmentalism is noted in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Yikes! That’s a penalty I can’t afford.
There’s good reason Jesus condemns the sin of judging so harshly and directly because of its subtlety. It’s easily overlooked as judging seems to be innate in humans – or at least this human. This exercise prompted me to think of how often I catch myself making assumptions about someone based solely on their outward appearance, where they live, what they do for a living, for recreation, religion, etc. Crazymaking. If observing Lent is meant to bring you closer to God, trust that He will use that opportunity to reveal whatever attitude or behavior needs to be addressed to make that goal a reality.
In the same way I had to be told I was driving with high beams on, I often need to be forced to recognize and acknowledge sins I’ve become numb to – or even worse, deny or excuse. My husband wanted me to fight the ticket, but I couldn’t deny my guilt. Nor could I excuse my frequent tendencies towards being judgmental. I chose to plead guilty on both counts and remember going forward that:
1. When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
2. Christ’s instruction to “let my light shine” is not intended to highlight someone else’s issues but the grace that was given freely for my own.
Pointing to Jesus is always a wise choice.