One evening, after a loved one had gingerly confronted me about a judgmental attitude, I was praying – asking God if this horrible thing was true in my life. Sometimes, awful things are hard to see in yourself and I just didn’t see it. I truly believe that I was given a vision. It was of a forest with a huge, dead tree that had no plants around it. I was the tree and I had been using my branches to yank out of the soil anything that would dare to grow around me. Nothing was green for a huge area, for flowers, bushes and even other trees were all afraid to grow nearby. I felt God whispering to my soul, “You are so busy yanking others out of the great soil that is here, deciding for them that everything about them is wrong, too tall, too short, too thin, too fat, too ugly, too everything. By focusing on how everyone does not meet your standard and forcibly cutting them down, you have not even noticed that you have killed yourself in the mire of living a life of being judgmental.” In this vision, God then took me to another tree in the forest, a Tamarack tree. I again heard the Lord whisper to my spirit, “This is the tree I have made you to be. See how beautiful and green its branches are! And there are other plants all around; be kind to the other plants in the forest and the birds that come and land on your branches. Lift up your branches to praise me and don’t be concerned about other plants. Allow them to grow on their own, with me to guide them. I love them and will care for them. Just lift up your branches to me and rejoice in the beauty of where I’ve placed you. Rejoice in the differences that I have created; all the diverse plants and animals – and people too – I love and will care for. Each grows at their own rate and in their own way.” I found myself weeping for the person I had been, evaluating every person I would see or meet, never accepting them, but always judging them. Under that attitude was the fear that indeed, I would never meet my own expectation and so I judged everyone else to make myself somehow OK. I turned around that evening; every since then, I have released people to live their own lives without my evaluation of how they did it. And my favorite tree is the Tamarack, with its delicate leaves and beauty in the sunlight. Although it was a hard lesson, it taught me to listen to my loved ones and how to listen to God. Even as I write my blog each day, I ask God what He wants me to write about and His Spirit gently whispers to mine. I love that communication and that I have the opportunity to follow His leading.