Ever have one of those moments when you see yourself for who you really are–and it’s not pretty? Happened to me last night.

I was standing across from her, noticing her trendy, highlighted haircut and her pretty dress. She complimented me on my tights, I returned with a comment about her nifty boots. And then she had to walk away to take care of something, and as I watched her, I found myself looking for a flaw. Was there a run in her tights? Perhaps that dress didn’t fit as well as I thought?

And then I realized what I was doing. I wasn’t just looking for a flaw…I was looking for failure. I was trying to find some small area where I could say, “See! She doesn’t have that right! I’m better than her!”

What a pitiful, small way to live! And that’s been eating at me all morning. Is this really what I do? Do I really watch and wait, smile and compliment, all the while searching for something in the other person that I can find fault in, something to draw my attention off of my own failings?

If she speaks harshly to her children, then I can say I am better than her, I, who never raises my voice but can use it to cut. If I condemn her behavior, then I don’t have to deal with my own lack of self-discipline. If her haircut isn’t quite up to today’s standards, then my insecurities about my own style can be held at bay.

Except for this: I think I also assume that everyone is doing the same thing to me. If I am critiquing every person I come in contact with, then certainly they must have an equally watchful eye trained on me. What pressure! I sat at a Christmas party the other night, painfully aware that my socks weren’t working with my outfit. My socks. There’s this perceived pressure I’m dragging around with me all of the time, and I’m extending it to those around me.

And now it’s hitting me. Smiddy said something the other day, that he tries to see me the way God sees me. How often do I do that? Have I ever done that? I filter me, and those around me, through this sieve of failings, but that’s not how God sees me.

So…today, I’m trying to see me (and my children, and those I come into contact with) the way God sees me. I’m packing suitcases and fighting off this weird seasonal vertigo thing, and I’m trying to look past failings and irritations, trying to find the grace for myself that I know God gives.