The Ladder Of Judgment
Not to assume that my own experiences are universally felt, but I do get the sense that there are some I believe that we all share.
For example, I have spent far too much time on what I have come to understand as the "ladder of judgment." On this ladder, I constantly look at people I think are better than me, farther along, more capable, luckier, you name it.
Conversely, I often look down at others I believe to be below me on the ladder, comparing my accomplishments against theirs, my worth, my status, and a host of other imaginary measurements.
None of these comparisons is accurate, yet many of us do this constantly.
And further, our view of God on this ladder of judgment tends to be that God is so high up the rungs above us that we can't possibly connect with God.
I've spent enough time on this ladder to know what it means to be on it. When I am, I can't be my best self. I am filled with judgment of others but mostly filled with judgment of myself.
And my view of God gets terribly skewed on the ladder, so much so that I lose sight of what I even believe to be trustworthy of God, as loving, kind, intimate, and merciful.
So the question you may have at this point (which, incidentally, is the question I ask myself) is, "Why don't you just get off the ladder?"
That's the rub, you see. It's not easy to get off the ladder of judgment when it has become the very thing you were taught you needed to be on to be successful in life, a faithful Christian, and several other twisted reasons.
Most of us tend to want to stay on it, moving up and down it incrementally, because we don't know anything different.
But once we decide to climb down, here's what we find.
Not only are there people standing on the level ground beneath the ladder, but they are also the kinds of people who will help you keep from getting back on it again. Those who have decided to stop climbing up and down the ladder of judgment rarely get back on it.
And so we will find community on the level ground below, but we will also find something else. God is on that level ground, in the community, standing with us, up close, intimate, and loving.
We will also discover new ways to understand ourselves and others on that level ground. We see others more fully on the ground than we did on the ladder, for starters, and we also see ourselves more fully because there is less to compare and criticize.
But most of all, when we decide to descend from the ladder of judgment, we discover that the ladder itself leads to nothing and nowhere.
May you leave the ladder of judgment behind today and every day from this day. May you discover the presence of God in community---the kind of community where there is equity, fellowship, connectedness, and grace.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.