Charles Allen (Victories in the Valleys of Life, Fleming H. Revell, 1981) tells the story of a man who, one wintry day, went to traffic court in Wichita, Kansas, not knowing court had been canceled because of a blizzard. A few days later he wrote this letter:
“I was scheduled to be in court February 23rd, at 12:15 pm., concerning a traffic ticket. Well, I was there as scheduled and, to my surprise, I was the only one present. No one had called to tell me that the court would be closed, so I decided to go ahead with the hearing as scheduled, which meant that I had to be the accuser, the accused and the judge. The citation was for going 46 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone. I had the speed alert on in my car, set for 44 miles per hour; and as the accuser, I felt that I was going over 35 miles per hour, but as the accused, I know that I was not going 46 miles per hour. As judge, and being the understanding man that I am, I decided to throw it out of court this time. But it had better not happen again.”He had a rare opportunity to officially “judge” himself. But don't we all judge ourselves all day long? We judge ourselves too fat or too thin, too old or too young, unworthy, unlikeable, undeserving, inadequate ... you get the idea. And how often do you react more harshly to your own mistakes and errors than you would ever react to those same shortcomings in others?
A speaker started off his seminar by taking a bill from his wallet and holding it up high. He asked his audience, “Who would like this brand new $20 bill?” Hands shot up.
He continued, “I am going to give this $20 to one of you, but first, let me do this.” He crumpled the note. He then said, “It's crushed and wrinkled – now, who still wants it?” Again, most of the audience held their hands high.
He was relentless. “What if I do this?” He dropped the money, stepped on it and ground it into the floor with his shoe. He then held up the now dirty and disreputable bill. “Now who wants it?” Hands still waved in the air.
“My friends, here is the lesson,” he said. “No matter what I do to the money, you still want it because it does not decrease in value. It is still worth $20.” Then he gave it to someone in the audience. “How often are we crushed by life? Sometimes we are ill-treated and discarded. It can even feel as if we're ground into the dirt by poor decisions we make and circumstances that come our way. We may feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, we never lose our innate value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, used, refused or abused, we are still priceless.”
We judge ourselves all day long. But next time you judge yourself, don't lose sight of the main fact. No matter what you think of yourself today, you are still priceless.
-- Steve Goodier
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